National President Paul Moist used his address to Alberta convention delegates to warn that a concerted attack on workers and unions is getting closer to Canadian borders and should concern CUPE.
“The Canadian race-to-the-bottom has been visible for all to see,” said Moist. “The elimination of trade union rights in places as close to home as Wisconsin and Michigan, the birthplace of the American Labour movement, means our time is here.”
Moist pointed to recent actions by the Harper government, including the legislating away of bargaining rights to Air Canada, Canada Post and CP Rail workers, the increasing of the age to receive Old Age Security to 67, the right of companies to pay temporary foreign workers 15% less than standard rates, and the reduction of Employment Insurance benefits as signs of what’s to come.
“The Conservatives plan to introduce a Canadian version of right-to-work,” said Moist. “And we must recognize what we face; a dismantling of the social safety net our parents and grandparents struggled to build.”
Moist said the only way to counter the attack was to do what CUPE does best: talk to our members face to face.
“The separation between us as leaders and our members is our greatest challenge,” said Moist. “We need to learn from those who built our union. We need to approach our members with respect and humility.”
Calling for closer ties to the NDP, Moist rejected the suggestion that Leader Tom Mulcair wants to shut down the oil sands. Moist says that the NDP, like the Communications, Energy and Paper workers union, are advocating an increase in domestic refineries, creating jobs in Canada, rather than shipping those jobs to Texas.