This week, CUPE activists from across the province gathered in Regina for CUPE Saskatchewan’s annual convention.
Delegates gathered to learn from each other and discuss the pressing issues facing our membership – such as privatization, attacks on pension plans, funding cuts, and the Sask. Party government’s wage mandate.
CUPE National President Mark Hancock and National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury were in attendance to bring greetings on behalf of CUPE’s 680,000 members across Canada and to encourage members to stand strong in the face of continued Sask. Party attacks.
“We have our work cut out for us, nationwide and right here in Saskatchewan, to fight back against attacks on workers and our public services,” said Hancock. “Because in 2019, as jobs get less secure and life gets less affordable, working people need their union more than ever. Our members are counting on us to stand by their side in pursuit of fairness and respect at work, and equality and justice in our communities.”
“Here, the Saskatchewan Party wants more cuts in public services, more privatization and P3s, tougher bargaining, and maybe representation votes. We have one big message for the Saskatchewan Party: don’t balance your budget on our members’ backs. They deserve a fair deal,” added Charles Fleury, CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer.
Both national officers highlighted a few of the many accomplishments CUPE has achieved over the last year and the benefits of joining CUPE.
“At the national level, we’re continuing to bring new, unorganized workers into our union,” said Hancock. “Last year we brought 3,000 flight attendants at WestJet into CUPE. And we brought in thousands more in organizing drives and representation votes across the country.”
Last year, CUPE National has approved over $1 million of funding for direct campaign support in Saskatchewan. These campaigns include money to fight back against contracting out at Legal Aid (CUPE Local 1949), to strengthen and improve seniors’ care, bargaining support for our education sector, and to the University of Saskatchewan’s (CUPE Local 1975) campaign to protect their pension plan.
In addition, CUPE’s 2019 Budget includes 17 new staff positions across the country, including a new temporary staff person in Saskatchewan and the continuation of an organizer position.
“This is one of the biggest benefits of being a national union: if we have problems in one region, we can address them because in CUPE we combine our resources to help each other,” said Fleury. “This is how CUPE faces its challenges. This is how we find new ways to address austerity.”
CUPE is the largest union in Canada, representing employees working in a variety of public service occupations, including: health care, K-12 education, universities, libraries, municipalities, community-based organizations, and various boards and agencies.