March 24, 2005
TO ALL CUPE CHARTERED ORGANIZATIONS
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
We are very proud to announce that the Strike Fund has reached $25 million.
Article 14.1 (d) (iv) of our National Constitution states:
“Should the National Strike Fund, at any time, be reduced below the level of $15 million, an additional monthly per capita tax of .04% of the Local or Provincial Union’s average regular monthly wages shall be levied and shall remain in place until such time as the National Strike Fund reaches the level of $25 million.”
Accordingly, as of April 1st, the Constitutional Levy will be lifted. The last month for which local and provincial unions should submit the Constitutional Levy is March 2005.
Now that we are at this important juncture in our union’s history, it is important to pause and reflect on what we have accomplished together and what it means for our union and our continued work. We have gone from a cash balance of zero to $25 million in the Strike Fund in just over two years. During this time we have waged and won important battles on the picket line. Some of our strikes were large; some were small. We also were able to support numerous strike averting campaigns as well as the legal costs associated with strikes and the legal and arbitration costs for those denied their right to strike. All of this meant we were able to make contract improvements, fight concessions and stand tough against employers and governments who would like to turn back the clock on workers’ rights. And, all of it was possible because our collective solidarity has built a strong and sustained Strike Fund. We pooled our resources and strengthened our ability to do our job – that is to increase our labour power and improve the lives of working people.
However, because we are ending the Constitutional Levy as of April 1st, this does not mean that we lose that important revenue. Most locals did not increase members’ dues to pay for the levy, but paid for it out of the local union’s revenue. Therefore, the revenue still exists. It is now in a different place, in the local, at the grass roots. The Constitutional Levy collected approximately $6 million per year from locals across the country. Now local and provincial unions retain that $6 million, to use as they see fit.
This raises many possibilities to continue the important work of our union. In some areas across the country, initiatives have already begun with the revenue that previously went toward the Solidarity Levy. In Ontario, many locals are pooling resources to create regionally based strike funds to prepare for tough bargaining ahead. In Newfoundland and Labrador, locals have decided to create a bargaining fund in support of our strategic directions that will ensure continued strength through coordinated bargaining and a strong strike position.
There are many, many possibilities, such as increasing our muscle in international work by contributing to CUPE’s Global Justice Fund, and continuing to develop membership strength by hosting more educational events. (Information on CUPE courses and the Global Justice Fund can be obtained from your national representative). Locals could also use the returned revenue to affiliate to CUPE Provincial Divisions, CUPE District Councils, local labour councils and provincial federations of labour to make the labour movement stronger. We have demonstrated what working together can accomplish. We have demonstrated the power of our solidarity, and we can continue to do so.
We want to thank all CUPE members and staff for their support and dedication. In less than one year, we have concluded both the Solidarity Levy and the Constitutional Levy which together amount to nearly $12 million annually now retained by local unions. Today we look to the future with renewed confidence and financial strength.