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Each day the impact of trade agreements on our daily lives, our jobs and our public services grows more evident. Clean air and safe water play second fiddle to corporate profits. Workers compete for jobs with some of the poorest paid workers on the planet. Behind closed doors, corporations and governments make deals that threaten to sell off our health care and our schools to the highest bidder. In the face of this attack, its clear we need to adopt a new militancy. We must be prepared to take direct action on trade agreements just as we do on collective agreements.

The barricades at the Quebec City summit are just the latest evidence that governments are trying to hold us at bay while they turn public wealth into private property. They know that they are acting against the interests and the will of Canadians, so they gather in secret to sign their deals while they try to divide their critics.

Well, we in CUPE know how important it is to reach out to all our members, our allies in social movements, and to all Canadians to take on these trade agreements. Were proud of the militancy and leadership weve offered on trade issues. And were committed to moving forward to strengthen a broad grassroots movement in opposition to the rampant capitalism that confronts us.

Over the past year, weve been stepping up our efforts to topple the trade agenda.

  • Mobilizing more than 5,000 CUPE members, mainly from Ontario and Quebec, but also from all Canada to protest the latest threat, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, in Quebec City. Weve since supported a call for a public inquiry into the assault by riot police on our right to peaceful protest.
  • Intervening before the courts to support the appeal of a Mexican town that was fined $17 million by a NAFTA tribunal for trying to stop a US corporation from operating a toxic waste dump in their community.
  • Playing a lead role in the Common Front on the WTO (World Trade Organization).
  • Participating in rallies, actions, teach-ins and community events across the country.
  • Funding research on the impact of trade deals on health care, education, water and municipal services.
  • Working with other public sector unions around the world to expose the trade agenda.

And, we continue to build on the success of Quebec City,

  • We have launched a court challenge to Chapter 11 of NAFTA. Our case argues that the secret proceedings are an attack on our freedom of expression and freedom of the press, guaranteed by the Charter of Rights.
  • We are supporting the Quebec to Qatar caravan and teach-ins being developed by the Common Front on the WTO. The organization of the caravan is just getting underway. We will be building support among municipal councils and other potential allies for this action.
  • Mobilizing for upcoming trade meetings and broadening our tactics and our base of support, including direct action and civil disobedience.
  • Reaching out to involve more young people and more workers of colour in strengthening our movement.
  • Building pressure on the federal government to pursue a policy of fair trade and exclude public services from trade agreements.
  • Preparing a policy paper for National Convention that will confirm an action plan for the future, allowing CUPE to continue to provide leadership on this issue.