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Opening of the 15th biannual Conference

Hundreds gathered at the Delta hotel in Trois-Rivières on June 5 to discuss the challenges and issues at stake for more than 30,000 CUPE members working in municipalities across Quebec.

Marc-André Dufour, president of the CPSM (Conseil provincial du secteur municipal), opened the conference and invited CUPE-Quebec president Lucie Levasseur as the first speaker at the biannual conference. Levasseur started with  an overview of the past two years.

“We’ve seen new CUPE members, and some cities signing their first ever collective agreements, and we’ve seen others face some tough times at the negotiating table… but through it all, you’ve shown unwavering commitment and passion for your work by upholding the standard of our public services” she said.

The CUPE president brought up, among other things, the heated labour dispute faced by Sherbrooke’s blue-collar workers in the fall of 2010, the current strike mandate given by Laval’s blue-collar workers, and the endless struggles for  Quebec City’s municipal workers. “You can’t set expectations too high when you’re up against Régis Labeaume!”

Setting priorities: CETA and pension plans

Levasseur also mentioned the two main challenges facing CUPE:  the Canada‑EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and protecting pension plans.

“Our biggest problem with CETA,” she said “is that certain clauses would give the multinationals who invest here, more power over water, transportation, energy, health care, and so forth. The agreement would limit our governments’ ability to put in place social and environmental policies!”

On the pension plan front, CUPE-Quebec’s secretary-general Denis Bolduc pointed out CUPE’s ad campaign to protect supplemental pension plans and to improve the Quebec Pension Plan. “As trade unionists, we’re fighting for a decent life and also for a decent retirement!”

CUPE represents more than 111,000 members across Quebec, including 31,100 in the municipal sector, which adds up to approximately 70 percent of all municipal workers in the province. CUPE is also active in the following sectors: health and social services, communications, education, energy, Quebec crown corporations and public agencies, urban and air transport, the mixed sector, and universities.