CUPE’s success at B.C. bargaining tables are an example of what can be achieved by helping elect progressive governments, National President Mark Hancock told CUPE BC convention delegates in his address Tuesday morning.

“Our province is a good example of what we can achieve through political action and organizing. While other provinces are underfunding and privatizing public services, B.C. is investing in them, and in the workers who deliver them. It’s what a progressive government in Canada should look like,” said Hancock, who served as president of CUPE BC prior to taking on the union’s national leadership in 2015.

“Our bargaining teams here in B.C. have done a helluva job in the past year, bargaining some of the highest wage increases we’ve seen across the country, to help our members weather the cost-of-living crisis. That’s the kind of energy and effort we need, across B.C. and across Canada,” he said.

But while celebrating success, Hancock added, “electing a progressive government isn’t the end of the road. It’s just the beginning.”

Hancock held up the on-going strike by Fraser Valley transit workers as an example of the fights still left for CUPE in this province. The transit workers, represented by CUPE 561, have been on strike for six-weeks for wages in line with other transit workers and a pension from First Transit, the multinational corporation contracted to provide transit services in Fraser Valley communities.

“I don’t really care how wealthy you are, because in CUPE, we don’t let anyone walk over our members! And we won’t let these multinationals disrespect and shortchange workers,” said Hancock. “To our 561 members walking the line, I say: one day longer, one day stronger!”

Hancock rallied convention delegates to get ready to push back against more attacks on workers’ rights, like CUPE education workers did in Ontario last year standing up to that province’s Conservative government.

“It was a major victory for workers’ rights in this country. And it sends a powerful cautionary message to politicians like Kevin Falcon and every other conservative leader in this country who might try and attack our rights…. there is nothing stronger than the collective power of CUPE members and working people,” said Hancock, calling on CUPE to remain a leader for working people, and stand up to right-wing conservatives – here in B.C. and across Canada.

“When right-wingers like Pierre Poilievre are co-opting the language of working-class movements, it’s up to us to remind working people where their interests lie, and to help them understand what it means to be a member of the working class. And we need to be clear about whose side we’re on – and about who’s on our side. Because I can tell you it isn’t Pierre, and it isn’t Kevin Falcon,” said Hancock.