Sector council attendees on stageMore than 700 sector council conference delegates are heading back to their workplaces and communities ready to defend public services and stand up for economic and social justice.

CUPE members from every sector of our union met for four days in Ottawa – CUPE’s first national in-person gathering since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. They came ready to engage on the pressing issues we face as workers and in our union.

Delegates were inspired by expert speakers including Julia Posca, a researcher at the Institute for Socioeconomic Research. She equipped members to question what they hear about inflation, and shared how governments can address inflation without attacking workers.

Another plenary session gave delegates a powerful reminder that they are the heart and soul of winning campaigns to stop privatization and reclaim public services. Members also got down to work in 11 sector meetings, where they shared challenges and successes, and strategized together. Whether in health care or communications, members strategized about how to fight contracting-out, while members in the libraries and energy sectors talked about fighting against job cuts due to automation, and workers in emergency services and education spoke about the devastating impact of understaffing and violence in the workplace.

CUPE’s commitment to truth and reconciliation was honoured in a blanket ceremony led by CUPE’s diversity vice-president for Indigenous workers, Debra Merrier, that inspired delegates to learn more and take action. Many shared their reflections, which will be added to the blanket before it is put on display at CUPE’s national office. Delegates also showed their solidarity at a vigil for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people.

Our shared work to create a stronger, safer union was a prominent theme throughout the meeting, starting with an opening plenary bystander training for members. Delegates also heard from members of the Safe Union Spaces working group, as well as both national officers, on the importance of this work. Black, Indigenous and racialized members also met with our national diversity vice-presidents to advance CUPE’s anti-racism work.

Together, let’s keep building a stronger union that’s united and ready to push back against austerity, inflation and privatization.