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(Quebec - Convention) In a feisty farewell speech at CUPEs bi-annual national convention, outgoing National President Judy Darcy told delegates that the union is strong but there are still many threats facing public sector workers. There is a bulls-eye on CUPE jobs, she said, from multinational companies that are trying to convince governments to privatize public services.

But with 125,000 new members since Darcy became national president in 1991, Darcy told delegates at the Quebec City Convention Centre that CUPE is winning the fight. She pointed to many different victories from her 12-year reign, in particular the halt of Hydro Ones privatization in Ontario. We stopped the biggest privatization attempt in Canadian history, said Darcy, and it was a turning point in defeating the Harris/Eves government.

CUPE has also stopped the privatization of countless hospitals, schools and water systems in Canada, Darcy told delegates. Canada would be a very different place today if CUPE had not fought back.

CUPE now has 535,000 members, making it Canadas largest union. Besides the ongoing fight against privatization, Darcy is also proud of her unions efforts to increase womens wages and bring in more diverse groups, including workers of colour, Aboriginal workers and young workers. As well, she said that CUPEs victory in a same-sex pension case five years ago helped pave the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux spoke after Darcy, and told delegates that CUPE is continuing to resist wage rollbacks and concessions across Canada. The union recently settled the costliest lock-out in its history, involving 2,200 Videotron cable company workers in Quebec, but Généreux said the successful outcome made it all worthwhile. Strikes are about holding out for as long as you can, until you win, he said, adding that CUPE will continue to do what it takes to defend all of its workers.

Convention delegates will elect CUPEs new national officers, including a new national president, on Wednesday, October 29 at 9 a.m. The convention wraps up on Friday. As for Darcy, she has moved into a new home in Vancouver, where she plans to fight privatization on the west coast. My blood is already boiling over Gordon Campbell, she told delegates, before thanking CUPE members and staff for making her labour career so rewarding.

For more information:
Kaj Hasselriis, CUPE Communications, 613-798-6925
Visit cupe.ca for information and full convention coverage