President-elect for CUPE NB addressing ConventionThe 56th Annual Convention of CUPE New Brunswick certainly had its share of mobilization, suspense and emotion.

After four rounds of voting, Brien Watson was elected the new president of CUPE New Brunswick. Five candidates were in the running for the position. 

Brien Watson began his career almost 41 years ago as a programmer in New Brunswick’s Anglophone South School District. For over 15 years, he was president of CUPE 380 in Saint John, representing bus drivers, janitors, maintenance workers, engineers and more. He then became president of CUPE 1253 for seven years.

“It’s an honour to have the confidence of CUPE members to represent them. I won’t let you down,” said Watson following his election.

“Premier Blaine Higgs, believe me, I won’t give you a break as long as the workers do not get what they are owed,” he added.

After fourteen years as president, Daniel Légère leaves CUPE New Brunswick strong, united and mobilized. Throughout the four days of the convention, he received many well-deserved tributes where emotions were high. Family members – including his wife, mother, children and grandchildren – were part of the celebrations. 

The convention took place in the context of a difficult negotiation and legal battle for nursing home workers’ right to strike. To date, the Higgs government has done everything in its power to deny workers a wage increase beyond the cost of living.

On Friday, April 12, CUPE held one of the largest union rallies in New Brunswick’s recent history. Union allies joined the march for equitable wages. Members raised demands for the right to strike and the importance of decent wages for all. 

One of the Convention’s guest speakers, Alain Deneault, addressed the tax haven scandal. Using complex schemes, large corporations are bypassing the Canadian tax system, and are not paying their fair share of taxes. “With tax havens, companies avoid paying billions of dollars to governments. That money could be used for hospitals, schools, and roads. It’s a major issue that affects us all.”