Dear Sisters and Brothers:
Our third quarter of 2013 was marked by some very significant national and international events.
A number of communities in Alberta, including the City of Calgary, were hit by extreme flooding which was not foreseen and caused significant damage and left tens of thousands of citizens homeless.
CUPE members were on the front-lines of flood-fighting and evacuation efforts and have received well-deserved accolades from municipal and provincial officials. CUPE Alberta, numerous Alberta locals, CUPE British Columbia, and our national union have made donations to assist with flood relief efforts.
In early July, the small Quebec community of Lac-Mégantic was devastated as rail cars full of fuel exploded in the heart of the town’s downtown business district. CUPE Quebec and CUPE national have both made donations to a town fund. Apart from the loss of life and devastation left within Lac-Mégantic, this tragedy raises a number of rail transportation regulatory and health and safety issues.
Internationally, the hopes of the so-called Arab Spring have faded as we watch unprecedented violence in Egypt in the aftermath of the fall of the Morsi government. This coupled with ongoing civil war in Syria point to instability throughout the Middle East region.
Behind all of the shocking images we witness nightly on newscasts is the undeniable fact of the devastation brought about by soaring food costs and high unemployment on workers, their families, and communities throughout the region. Similar pressures have resulted in massive citizen protests in both Turkey and Brazil in recent months.
Within CUPE, negotiations continue at over 1,500 bargaining tables in an environment of austerity and restraint. As detailed within this report, strike/lockout activity has been minimal, but the bargaining climate remains tough.
A citizens’ coalition in Regina has forced Regina City Council to hold a plebiscite on a proposed P3 wastewater treatment plant. CUPE members and retirees are active in the campaign which will culminate in the September 25, 2013 referendum.
On Labour Day weekend, I was pleased to attend the founding convention of Unifor, the successful merger of CAW and CEP, Canada’s largest private sector union, one we hope many unorganized private sector workers will want to join.
Finally, this month (September 24, 1963 to be exact) marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of our union, CUPE. Our provincial divisions and many locals have held a variety of celebrations throughout the year. The culmination of these celebrations will be our national convention in Québec City between October 21-25, 2013.
I know you will all join me in offering our sincere thanks to the sisters and brothers, staff, and rank and file activists whose struggle and vision built CUPE into Canada’s biggest and best union. As always, I also offer sincere thanks to each and every one of our activists and staff for your ongoing work on behalf of CUPE members.