Our union continues to support the global AIDS movement that struggles against discrimination and fights for improvements in public health services.
The AIDS awareness movement has always shown that health is interconnected with many critical issues. Poverty, violence, and other forms of marginalization mean the impacts of the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic are not shared equally.
Women, people with disabilities, and Black, racialized and Indigenous peoples have higher rates of AIDS and HIV. They also face greater barriers to testing, treatment, care, and other HIV prevention services. This inequality is unacceptable, and our union remains committed to fighting it.
More than 35 years ago, CUPE took a stand against the stigma and discrimination faced by people with AIDS and HIV. CUPE 4014 supported a grievance when Hans Olav Prins was taken off his job as a flight attendant at Pacific Western Airlines because he had AIDS. Pacific Western, which became Canadian Airlines in 1987, suspended him even though two company doctors said he was fit to fly.
Hans died before the landmark arbitration decision that set a precedent protecting workers with AIDS and HIV from discrimination. His bravery and determination continue to inspire us to keep up the fight against stigma.
Since then, CUPE has developed educational materials and workshops for members, challenged discrimination in health plans, and tackled criminalization and racism faced by people with AIDS and HIV.
CUPE encourages our members to learn more about the AIDS movement and continue this important work in their locals.
Actions you can take:
- Participate in the United Nations’ ongoing HIV/AIDS campaigns. For World AIDS Day 2023, UNAIDS is highlighting the theme “Let communities lead” recognizing the crucial role of communities in ending AIDS.
- Learn more about Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week in Canada, December 1-7.
- Start a discussion with members in person or online about how HIV/AIDS is a union issue. Use CUPE educational resources, including our bargaining checklist and health and safety fact sheet.