Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The last quarter of 2013 has been a jam-packed one for our union.
On September 25, 2013, our National Executive Board (NEB) and staff at national office celebrated the 50th anniversary of CUPE’s founding convention. The fall season was full of 50th anniversary celebrations, culminating in our national convention held in beautiful Quebec City between October 21-25, 2013. More on the convention later in this report; suffice it to say that the almost 3,000 delegates, alternates, staff, and guests had an event-filled week in commemorating our past and setting clear direction for our future.
This reporting period saw pensions in the news on a number of fronts. Our campaign to double CPP benefits continued with Provincial Finance Ministers and Premiers’ meeting, with CPP on the front-burner of both agendas. We are also dealing with the provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta on pension reform.
Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippine Islands, the second huge natural disaster in a few short months. Our union provided direct financial support to both Oxfam Canada and our sister union in the Philippines, COURAGE.
While critical issues abound, including high youth unemployment and the devastating impact of Employment Insurance (El) cutbacks, Canadian politics this fall were dominated by the Senate scandal and ongoing saga of Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto.
As detailed in this report, three small but very stubborn strikes continue in British Columbia and Ontario. I was incredibly proud that our convention delegates gave such a warm welcome to representative members from our three striking locals.
As this report goes to print, we learn of two very regressive pieces of labour legislation being introduced by the Alberta government which will add to the climate of austerity in the province, as well as increasing fines and monetary penalties in response to any illegal strikes in Alberta by public sector units that do not have the legal right to strike.
As we close out 2013, we should reflect on the words of one of our guest speakers at the recent national convention. Aboriginal writer and artist, Tomson Highway, said “unions protect human dignity”. A fitting description to guide us into our sixth decade of service to CUPE members.