Sisters and Brothers:
In my last report, I described the balanced approach we found necessary to take as we prepared the budget for 2011. Only three months into the year, it’s clear that it was the right approach, leaving us on a solid footing to meet the challenges our members are facing.
The same interests that led the world into financial chaos less than three years ago have turned their sights on public sector workers. Our union is ready to fight back.
While we have yet to receive audited financial statements (at the time of writing, we were still processing some 2010 invoices), we know we have a healthy bank balance. Our assets to liabilities ratio is 1.6:1. And, I am pleased to say, we can now write off more than $2 million that has been showing as an account payable for 10 years because of a lawsuit filed by our former technology provider. That suit has been dismissed. We are also showing a preliminary surplus of more than $1.5 million in the National Defence Fund.
All of this is good news because the fight is on, evidenced by the requests for cost-shared campaigns coming to this board as well as anti-privatization plans submitted by regions. Our Toronto locals are facing a multi-front fight from their new mayor starting with plans to contract out garbage collection and reaching into child care, housing and many other areas. In Winnipeg, the proposal to hand over wastewater to Veolia is still on the table. And right across Canada, municipalities face the possibility of losing their right to make decisions on behalf of their own communities under the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA).
Election planning is also underway in the five provinces where provincial elections are scheduled. We are getting all the tools in place to be ready in the event that a federal election is called. The federal budget came down yesterday (March 22) so anything is possible.
Fair taxation has to be an issue for us in all of these elections because we have too many governments prepared to let their corporate friends off the hook while workers and their families shoulder the responsibility for programs and services. This is one of the messages that I am taking to our division conventions this spring. It’s time for corporations to pay their fair share. The alternative is a continuing downward spiral while we all wait for the increased corporate investment in our economy that never seems to come.
This is an international fight and our healthy financial situation means that we can respond when the need is there. Last month, when the call came, we were able to immediately send a staff delegation to Madison, Wisconsin for a demonstration in solidarity with public sector workers whose basic right to belong to a union is under attack.
I myself have just returned from Haiti (yesterday’s National Executive Committee meeting is the first I’ve missed since taking office). It was a fantastic visit because we were able to take the first steps in helping our sister union, CTSP, construct a new building to replace the one destroyed in last year’s earthquake. But we did even more than that, taking with us a dozen used laptops for the union. At the request of CTSP, my executive assistant Michael Butler and CUPE administrative officer Line Deschamps ran a week-long training session in basic financial administration. We were also joined by Ronald Boisrond, a temporary research representative in Quebec who is also a member of Local 301 and a member of Montréal’s large Haitian community.
I am extremely proud of the work that we have been able to do in that impoverished country and proud that our union has the means to do it.
On that note, I wish to inform the National Executive Board and all CUPE members that after much deliberation, I have decided that I will not offer again for the position of National Secretary-Treasurer at our National Convention in Vancouver. It is time to go before I overstay my welcome.
The members have given me a good run for 10 years. Once elected, I have never been challenged. It has been a pleasure to have been able to work with Brother Paul and all of you over the last eight years to move the organization in a good direction. Now is the time for a transition using a proper process in an orderly manner.
I look forward to helping to break in a new secretary-treasurer and thank you for the honour you have given me to serve as your National Secretary-Treasurer for the last 10 years. Of course, I still have several National Secretary-Treasurer’s reports to present to this board in 2011 and will do so with pride.