Every year on March 21, CUPE marks the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

And every day, CUPE members across the country continue to confront ongoing racism in our communities and workplaces, including racial profiling and criminalization, Islamophobia, lack of employment and education opportunities, precarious work, unequal access to public services, environmental racism and lack of basic human rights for migrant workers.

This year, we are speaking out about fighting racism in the age of coronavirus.

Over the past several months, anti-Asian racism and xenophobia spiked in the context of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019 n-COV), the virus that causes COVID-19. This spike is a pattern of refueled racism towards the Asian population, much like what transpired during the SARS pandemic.

CUPE stands strong with people of Asian descent – and those presumed to be of Asian descent – as they become the target of blame and shame. CUPE does not tolerate any harassing, racist and discriminatory remarks and acts of violence against anyone, especially during this time when we need global and local cooperation, and mutual aid.

CUPE embraces its members, neighbours and friends in this trying time, and re-affirms that unions play a vital role in fighting hatred and fear in Canada and around the world

It is important for our members facing any form of harassment, discrimination and or racism to contact their local steward or executive member to file a complaint and or grievance.

At the same time, March 21 is also a time to recognize the significant achievements of racialized and Indigenous peoples in advancing equality and justice in our communities, our workplaces and our union. This includes our members whose activism has strengthened our movement by bringing new ideas, perspectives and energy into the struggles of working people.

Members can take action


  • Take a workshop, book a speaker. Register for a union workshop that deals with anti-racism practices, dealing with harassment, discrimination or bullying. Invite someone to speak about anti-racism at your next union meeting.
  • Sign up for updates and read Canadian Labour Congress report on Islamophobia and how to fight it in the workplace.


  • Support the Migrant Rights Network in their campaign for justice for migrant workers in the age of Coronavirus. Sign their petition and share with your networks.
  • Intervene. Educate yourself on the best ways to intervene to challenge racist actions and how best to support the person or group affected. Speak out against racist acts like jokes, slurs, graffiti or name-calling.
  • Challenge your workplace. Speak out about racist and discriminatory policies and practices in your workplace.
  • Challenge yourself. Consider how some of your own assumptions might be influenced by discrimination.
  • Become an ally. An ally is someone who actively supports racialized groups facing challenges. Being in alliance helps strengthen relationships in the workplace.


  • Negotiate employment equity language into your collective agreement. Contact the Human Rights branch for information at humanright@cupe.ca