AFCSME President Lee Saunders inspired delegates on Tuesday with a boisterous speech about the labour movement’s durability in the face of ongoing and relentless attacks against it.

Brother Saunders began with a tribute to Paul Moist, thanking the CUPE National president for his outspoken leadership in fighting for economic justice and fairness for all working families.

Challenging CUPE members to stand together against attacks on working people and to protect our past victories, Saunders said that we are in the fight of our lives.

The Friedrichs case currently before U.S. courts attacks our very existence, he said. On the other hand, our members and our unions will still be around long after the current politicians are gone.

“But we will never let any court decision or law determine our future,” Saunders said to thunderous applause.  “We’ve come too far and fought too hard to turn back now. If our enemies want a fight, they’ll get one.”

Saunders said that we need to examine ourselves, keep what it is working and change what we’re doing wrong. AFSCME locals have committed to holding face-to-face conversations with 80 percent of their members before their next convention.

“We’ve found not only that members are glad to hear from their union, but also that they want to be part of the fight,” said Saunders.

Saunders said that by working together, no matter what our struggles are, we will emerge stronger. 

“We are rising up together, for all the working families, for all the working women and men,” said Saunders.  “Together we will fight our battles.  Together we will celebrate our victories!”