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7 September 1998

Labour Day Statement by Judy Darcy National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees

This Labour Day I am joining 40 striking CUPE members at the head of the Labour Day Parade in the city of Windsor, Ontario.

Theirs isn’t the largest strike in CUPE. Nor the longest. But it’s a strike about the future of health care. And it’s typical of the battles that confront workers today 0061006e0064 make unions more important than ever.

These workers, members of Locals 3626 and 3741-1, have been on strike for nine weeks. Employees with the Windsor and Essex Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), they provide support to the most vulnerable in our society: the sick and the frail, the elderly and the disabled. They bring skills, dedication and experience to their work, providing the best possible service with inadequate resources.

And what have they earned for their efforts? Meagre wages, management abuse, goons and harassment, strike breakers and injunctions.

These workers, most of them women, are the lowest paid CCAC workers in the province. Seven years without an increase, they earn as little as $11, a third less than CUPE members performing the same work in surrounding communities. Worse still, their jobs are in jeopardy as their employer cuts staff and hours. Each day they work harder and earn less.

These sisters and brothers are struggling to survive the policies of the Chrétien and Harris governments 0067006f0076ernments intent on slashing and privatizing public services, killing full-time jobs that can support a family and replacing them with part-time and casual McJobs that offer little pay and fewer benefits.

We refuse to accept that “community-based” health care should force health care workers to join the race to the bottom, where wages and working conditions are forever ratcheted downwards. But this is the threat that confronts these workers.

They are not alone. Each day there are more workers scrambling to survive, to defend their jobs and protect their rights.

That’s why Canada’s largest union, with 460,000 members, has made organizing the unorganized a top priority, bringing in 26,000 new members in the past two years alone.

And that’s why, on this Labour Day, we commit ourselves to redouble our efforts to reach out to organize more workers 007400680065 most vulnerable 0077006f006den, young workers and workers of colour. We’ve committed $2 million over the next year to this goal, so that by next Labour Day even more workers will benefit from the protection of a CUPE contract and the support of CUPE members from coast to coast to coast.

For further information, contact:

Robert Fox, Communications Director (613) 237-1590 ext. 264 or (613) 795-4977 (cell) opeiu 491