Highlights from the 2022 CUPE Manitoba Convention
Over two hundred union activists from across Manitoba gathered on October 20-22 in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 Territory, for the annual convention of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Manitoba.
“The energy this week has been nothing short of inspiring,” said Gina McKay, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Our union has so much work to do, and I can proudly say it is getting done by this engaged, dedicated, and committed group of activists.”
Convention began with Elder Albert McLeod, a long-time human rights activist and Two-Spirit advocate, who helped open Convention and share teachings on courage to do the work in a good way. The first day featured Mark Hancock, CUPE National President, Candace Rennick, CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer, as well as Debra Merrier, CUPE Diversity Vice-President – Indigenous Workers, and Judy Henley, National Executive Board General Vice-President – Prairies.
“All across Manitoba, CUPE members are fighting back against the Conservative government,” said Mark Hancock, CUPE National President. “CUPE Manitoba is leading the way in breaking the Conservative government’s bargaining mandate, and their attempt to restrict our members’ wages even as the cost of living rises.”
“Whatever issues you take on, CUPE will be there with you,” Candace Rennick, CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer told delegates. “You can count on CUPE’s national strength and resources to fuel your union work—you can count on support for bargaining, representation of members, and for all your campaigns for justice.”
Niall Harney, Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives discussed research on a living wage for communities in Manitoba, and Shila LeBlanc, Restorative Approach Practitioner, gave delegates essential tools for restorative approaches to conflicts.
“This year’s convention centered the critical work of re-building our union and focusing on creating safer, more inclusive spaces for all workers,” said President Gina McKay. “Our constitutional changes, the way we run meetings and decolonize our structures, and the resources we are building all make our union stronger, and delegates participated in a constructive and meaningful way.”
Members debated resolutions over the course of three days, including major constitutional amendments to advance CUPE’s work to make our union safer and more accessible to all workers. Resolutions also committed CUPE Manitoba to the fight against the Progressive Conservative attacks against public services and the workers who provide them, including new campaigns and lobbying efforts.
Wab Kinew, Leader of the Manitoba NDP addressed delegates following a standing ovation, noting CUPE members’ work on the front lines defending workers during the pandemic.
Kinew noted the relationship between the Manitoba NDP and labour is critical in pushing back against the government’s legislative agenda which sought to undermine public Hydro, the public school system, and health care, and push wage freezes on front-line workers.
Other guests included Laura Tyler from Communities Not Cuts, Diwa Marcelino from Access Without Fear & Migrante, Rebecca Benson, CUPE Senior Human Rights Officer – Indigenous Issues, and Debra Merrier, CUPE National Diversity Vice-President – Indigenous Workers discussed both building a stronger, more progressive movement for everyone, and CUPE’s upcoming work in Manitoba on the Water is Life campaign.
Convention also featured Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, Melissa Dvorak, President of the Winnipeg Labour Council, and Bernie Wood from the Canadian Labour Congress.
Delegates heard from Angela McEwan, Senior Economist – CUPE National, and John Clarke, activist with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty on the impacts of inflation, and how workers can fight back to make society fair for everyone.
CUPE Manitoba was proud to honour Jamie Rose of CUPE 737 with the prestigious Jack Rodie award in recognition of his long-standing commitment to the labour movement.
Bernadette Smith (NDP MLA for Point Douglas), Uzoma Asagwara (MLA for Union Station), Mintu Sandhu (MLA for The Maples), Lisa Naylor, (NDP MLA for Wolseley), and Jennifer Chen (WSD School Trustee and NDP Candidate for Fort Richmond) also stopped by the convention to meet with delegates.
“With the mandate from our CUPE Manitoba Convention, we have the power to make positive change in our union, and for our community,” concluded Gina McKay. “CUPE Manitoba is stronger and more united today than ever before, and we are committed to the work ahead of us.”
More photos are available at the CUPE Manitoba Facebook Page
Elected members to the CUPE Manitoba Executive during Convention include:
Vice-President – Debbie Boissonneault, CUPE 204
Recording Secretary – Steve Magian, CUPE 744
Trustee – 1 year term – Rick Moore, CUPE 731
Winnipeg Area 1 “A” – Vivienne Ho, CUPE 2348
Brandon Area – Brittany Aube, CUPE 3060
Northern Area – Clayton Paul, CUPE 745
North-Central – Nick Ogryzlo, CUPE 998
2SLGBTQI+ – Daniel Richards, CUPE 204
Indigenous Council – Brandon Murdoch, CUPE 2348
Person with a Disability – Robert (Bob) Guenther, CUPE 744
Young Member – Tom Moore, CUPE 744
Woman and Gender Rights – Michelle Bergen, CUPE 998
Congratulations to all!