As always, it has been a whirlwind these past few months with division conventions on each coast and points in between. This year, CUPE members are more engaged than ever with rallies, protests, strike support and a variety of election and fightback campaigns. After traversing the country to be with members as they debate policy and strategy at each division convention, we are now in the process of our final preparations for the upcoming national convention in October in Montreal, and it promises to be an exciting and important convention as we turn this page in our history.
With the worst recession in our lifetime, CUPE members are experiencing some of the most difficult bargaining we have seen for some time. The economy is beginning to hit all sectors in CUPE and our members are responding across the country. In Windsor, over 1,800 CUPE municipal workers are engaged in a bitter fight to maintain post-retirement benefits for new hires. At the time of writing, these members have been off the job for seven weeks and remain committed to winning this battle for future CUPE members. On the east coast, CUPE New Brunswick is fighting back against a provincial government that is attempting to override the collective bargaining process with an edict for wage freezes and by banning the right to strike. In British Columbia, 3,500 paramedics continue their strike which began on April 1 which is aimed at redressing wage disparities that are ultimately creating staffing shortages and compromising emergency medical services.
Currently, CUPE flight attendants with Air Canada are engaged in tough bargaining, fighting employer concessions. In the City of Toronto, Locals 416 and 79 have received very strong strike mandates to get the City off its concessionary stance. In Saskatchewan, the CUPE Saskatchewan Health Care Council was forced to seek a strike mandate after almost a year at the bargaining table with no progress. At the same time they are forced to deal with a new labour law that severely limits their right to strike. And all across the country CUPE members are fighting job cuts, contracting out and P3s.