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As mandated by the 2003 convention, CUPE commissioned NOW Communications to conduct a survey of member attitudes about the union and what it should be doing. NOW conducted focus groups in ten cities and surveyed 2425 members across the country. This is a presentation of the results of this survey.



Photo montage of CUPE members (photos of CUPE members at work, in community, etc.)

CUPE delegates at the 2003 convention asked our union to research the attitudes and opinions of CUPE members:

  • To better understand their concerns.
  • To better meet their needs.
  • To better plan the union’s priorities in bargaining and in political action.

10 focus groups in six cities

  •  Vancouver
  •  Calgary
  •  Winnipeg
  •  Toronto
  •  Montreal
  •  Halifax

We spoke with members in 10 focus groups in six cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal (in French) and Halifax to hear rank and file members talk about their work and their union.

2,425 CUPE members contacted

Sample attempted to:

  • Match CUPE membership by sector; and,
  • Sample enough in each province.

We took what we learned from the focus groups and developed a questionnaire to talk with 2,425 members across the country.

We tried to ensure that the sample we surveyed matched CUPE’s main sectors.

We also tried to ensure that the sample was large enough to get accurate information on each province.

Margin of error Plus or minus 2%, 19 times out of 20

This is a large sample with a high degree of accuracy.

The information we’re presenting here is accurate plus or minus 2%, 19 times out of 20.

Today, we’re focusing on the results for the whole sample.

CUPE leadership and staff will continue to review and learn from this research over the coming months, breaking it down by region, sector and other variables.

Job satisfaction

90% very satisfied / somewhat satisfied

We first asked members about their satisfaction with their job.

90% of members surveyed are either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their job.

This is a high job satisfaction rate compared to other unions.

CUPE effectiveness of representation

Scale – shown graphically
42% – High
31% – Neutral
25% – Low

When asked how effective CUPE is at representing them, 42% of members surveyed ranked CUPE high on an effectiveness scale… and 25% rated CUPE low on the scale.

CUPE ranks higher in both extremes of this question than other unions.

Single most important thing CUPE should be doing:

27% – Represent me/ stand up for me/ fairness/ ensure employer respects contract
20% – Job security/ more hours/ protect against privatization/ contracting out
17% – Good wages and benefits
5% – Good contract
22% – Other
10% – Nothing, don’t know

We asked CUPE members to identify the single most important thing their union should be doing for them.

Most CUPE members surveyed said representation, in some form, is the most important thing CUPE should do.

They also looked for job security, good wages and benefits, or a good contract in the top four subjects.

Importance of key services – total importance (4 or 5)

87% – Protecting job security
88% – Negotiating good wages and benefits
86% – Getting you a good pension
86% – Protecting health and safety at work

We asked members to rank the importance of key union services on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely important.

As you can see, between 86% and 88% of CUPE members surveyed agreed that protecting job security, negotiating good wages and benefits, getting a good pension and protecting health and safety were all important or very important services for the union to provide.

Equality, human rights and fair treatment for everyone – CUPE action

88% – Extremely important or important to some degree

When asked to rank the importance of CUPE promoting equality, human rights and fair treatment for everyone,

20% said it was somewhat important and a strong majority said it was extremely important – 68%.

This is a strong statement by a large percentage of those surveyed.

Political action

69% – CUPE should be providing information to members about politics

24% – CUPE should not be providing information to members about politics

image of cupe members “campaigning”

To determine attitudes toward political action, we asked members which was closer to their view:

CUPE should be providing members with information on this because politicians’ decisions can directly affect members’ jobs, as well as funding for public services and decisions about privatization – 69% agreed.


CUPE should not be providing information on where politicians stand on issues because political choices are personal and private – 24% of CUPE members surveyed agreed

Satisfaction with collective agreement

72% – Very satisfied / somewhat satisfied
25% – Not very satisfied / not at all satisfied

CUPE members were asked how satisfied they were with their collective agreement, 72% said very or somewhat satisfied and 25% said not very or not at all satisfied.

Contracting out and privatization

% very or somewhat concerned about:

  • Pay being cut – 83%
  • Quality of service will decrease - 83%
  • Job contracted out or privatized – 78%
  • Workload increased – 78%
  • Hours being cut – 77%

Contracting out and privatization are affecting more and more CUPE members and their anxiety about this is reflected in our survey.

A large majority of CUPE members were VERY or somewhat concerned about pay being cut, a decrease in the quality of service they could provide, contracting out generally, workload increases, and hours being cut.

Negotiating workplace training

graphic to show scale

  • Important - 79%
  • Neutral – 11%
  • Not important – 8 %

We also asked CUPE members about the importance of workplace training that helps them do their jobs more effectively or get a promotion.

79% of CUPE members surveyed rated negotiating workplace training as important.

This ranking is high compared to other unions.

Employer provided training

Yes – 65
No – 32

image of someone learning on the job – two members together

65% of members surveyed said their employer provided this type of workplace training.

Internet access

  • 20% – At home
  • 13% – At work
  • 55% – Both at work and at home
  • 11% – Do not have Internet access

While the focus group said they like getting information from the union in person or in newsletters at their workplace, they also expressed interest in the union’s online activities.

In the survey, we learned that 88% of CUPE members have access to the Internet either at home, at work, or both.

Highlights today

Detailed analysis over time

Implement our strategic directions decisions

The survey highlights we’re viewing today focus on the total responses to some of the questions we asked.

Our more in-depth analysis of the survey results will help us implement the strategic directions plan adopted at this convention.