Connecting with members, building a more inclusive union, creating safe and healthy workplaces, and fighting privatization were front and centre in discussions about Strategic Directions on Wednesday morning.

Delegates resumed debate on CUPE’s blueprint for the next two years with discussions about the importance of health and safety activism.

CUPE 1623 vice-president Sharon Richer described the urgent need for action for health care workers, who face on-the-job assaults.

“Violence is not a part of our job. We all have a right to a safe, violence-free workplace,” said Richer.

Strategic Directions proposes that 2016 be a year focused on health and safety. CUPE 2669 member and national health and safety committee co-chair Dolores Douglas said the plan will re-energize CUPE and is a great way to connect with members, especially precarious workers.

Fighting privatization was another focus, with delegates calling for solidarity across sectors and targeted resources for locals under attack.

Barb Biley, CUPE 6179 and Hospital Employees’ Union member, told delegates how important it was to be able to quickly mobilize workers across sectors to fight contracting out at a seniors’ home. Building members’ capacity to fight back, and involving all workers in a region, is essential to keep winning these battles, she said.

Kirk Mercer of CUPE 951 and Randy Fennell of CUPE 728 both pointed to apprenticeships in the skilled trades as another way to defend public services against contracting out. They called for support to maintain and expand apprenticeship programs across the country.

Delegates discussed the need to keep building CUPE’s member-to-member organizing through the Fairness program, as well as the need to engage and connect with young and precarious members – building a truly inclusive and diverse union.