When Abe Araya first got involved in his union eight years ago, he never thought he would someday be elected as the President of Manitoba’s largest union.
That day came on November 13, 2019, when delegates at the CUPE Manitoba Convention elected Araya to lead CUPE Manitoba into what will be another year of the provincial Progressive Conservative government’s attacks on working people.
“I have been a fighter all my life,” said Abe Araya. “I overcame barriers, went head-to-head with management, and have taken the struggle to the streets”.
Araya previously served as President of CUPE 110, representing custodians, painters, utility workers and more, at the Winnipeg School Division. Araya came to Canada from Eritrea as a young child, and hopes to motivate and encourage refugee youth and other children.
“Our school division covers some of the lowest income, most marginalized communities in Canada,” said Araya. “I take inspiration from the students’ struggles and hope they can be inspired by my work in the union, fighting for fairness for everyone”.
Araya has been actively involved in organizing CUPE members to volunteer in electing labour-friendly candidates at every level of government, but he is also known for bringing members out to both labour and community protests.
“Being involved in social justice work is a big responsibility, but it is incredibly rewarding,” said Araya. “Now is a critical time for labour, youth, Indigenous, newcomer, environmental and other social justice movements to work together to fight against right-wing ideologies”.
Araya hopes to help unite labour and build stronger partnerships with the community. “With the Conservative government in Manitoba cutting health care, education, and social services, the fight is no longer confined to union halls and bargaining rooms,” noted Araya.
“We need to lead and be led by our community allies in the fights ahead, and I know CUPE Manitoba will be carrying the fuchsia flag every step of the way”.