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March 16, 1999


Judy Darcy, National President

Geraldine McGuire, National Secretary-treasurer

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

As we write, an unprecedented number of CUPE members are on strike or have recently been on strike. In the second week of March, more than 17,000 members from eight CUPE locals received strike pay and group insurance benefits totaling more than $3.7 million. In one week, the National Defence Fund paid out almost as much in strike benefits as we spent in all of 1998.

CUPE’s Constitution is designed to ensure that no CUPE member will ever go without strike pay. Article 14.1 (d) (iii) requires that if ever the balance in the National Defence Fund falls below $5 million, a special levy of .04% must be added to the per capita paid by locals to CUPE National.

With the payment of the strike benefits for the second week of March, the balance in the National Defence Fund falls below $5 million. As a result, locals are required to pay the special levy effective March 1999. The special levy continues until the balance in the National Defence Fund increases to $10 million.

At the end of this note you will find links to further information on the National Defence Fund and the special levy.

The cost of the levy for the average CUPE member will be 21 cents per week or $10.92 per year.

Over the years, hundreds of CUPE locals have had to draw strike pay. We know how important it is on the picket line to have the full backing of CUPE members from coast to coast. And many more among us have had to fight to protect our jobs and our wages. We’re proud that CUPE has always been there to back us in these struggles.

After years of cutbacks and wage freezes - and in the case of many locals, after massive restructuring - negotiations to protect jobs and improve wages and working conditions are extremely difficult. We have a moral as well as a constitutional obligation to ensure that our National Defence Fund is strong. We appreciate your support and understanding in these special circumstances.

Together we remain not only the largest but the strongest union in Canada.

Yours in solidarity,

JUDY DARCY, National President

GERALDINE McGUIRE, National Secretary-Treasurer