Sisters and Brothers:

Once again we have gone through a busy spring on the bargaining and political fronts. In addition, we have had the opportunity to meet many local leaders and activists at nine Division conventions.

One of the highlights of those conventions is seeing how our union continues to renew itself with new and young activists. In many regions this year there seemed to be a large number of first-time delegates. This is encouraging because more than ever we need energetic, enthusiastic and committed activists to confront the attacks on workers and help bring about change.

After hearing the convention reports of the treasurers and trustees of those nine divisions, I am pleased that all divisions, without exception, have a solid financial base. I congratulate you for that.

Change was on the minds of voters in some regions of the country. In April we saw an outcome in the Quebec election that surprised almost everyone. And in Ontario, while the Liberals were re-elected with a majority, voters clearly rejected a right-wing, anti-union austerity agenda that featured slashing public sector jobs and giving corporations more tax breaks. We will all be watching to see what happens now with the proposed Ontario pension plan and with a new central bargaining process for CUPE school board workers.

CUPE was pleased to be a sponsor of the Broadbent Institute Progress Summit in late March. Hundreds of progressives came together to talk about how the Harper Conservatives have changed Canada and how we take back the country when we go to the polls next year. But it was also an opportunity to see how some seemingly progressive governments, such as Australia’s Labour government led by Julia Gillard, don’t recognize the problems inherent in contracting out services like the ones CUPE members provide.

As we prepare for next year’s federal election, it’s important to remember the policy outlined in the Strategic Directions adopted by delegates to our last National convention:

CUPE reaffirms our 2011 commitment to work towards the election of a federal NDP government in 2015.” We can’t let our determination to defeat a right-wing government divert us into supporting parties that are ultimately not the friends of our members and all workers.

Another major event of this spring was the Canadian Labour Congress convention, which takes place every three years. From a financial perspective, there were two important resolutions adopted by delegates.

The first continues our support for the Together Fairness Works initiative, including a national television advertising campaign through the fall and into 2015, leading up to the federal election. A special levy of $1.50 per member, that was due June 1, had already been built into our 2014 budget and one more payment will be included for 2015.

In addition, delegates approved an increase in per capita tax of 5 cents per member, effective January 1, 2015. CUPE National pays the CLC per capita on behalf of all CUPE members, so this will be taken into account when we prepare the 2015 budget.

Turning to the financial statements for the first quarter of 2014, the General Fund shows the result of the prudent approach we have taken. The per capita revenue projections prepared by staff are holding steady, with a small amount of $80,337 over budget. While several budget lines are underspent, in most cases this is a matter of timing related to submission of invoices and not a reflection of CUPE’s activity on the ground.

Whether it’s election campaigns, the National Health Accord campaign, Unite for Fairness, the municipal finance toolkit released at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference earlier this month, preparation for the National Sector Council in October, the campaign to expand the CPP, or local and central bargaining, CUPE and our members are working full tilt.

This is also evident in the cost-shared campaigns that were approved in March and those being brought to this June National Executive Board meeting. If these are approved, close to 80% of the $2.6 million budgeted for cost-shares will have been spent halfway through the year. We will continue to monitor this situation to try to ensure that funds are available for important campaigns that may arise in the second half of 2014.