CUPE members are dedicated to making our communities, and our country, a better place for our families, friends and neighbours. Whether it’s a grassroots campaign to stop contracting out, or a national campaign to protect public health care, we win when we mobilize in coalition with community allies.
Campaigning has always been a top priority for our union, and this year members endorsed an important change ensuring we have the resources to resist attacks on public services. At our national convention, delegates passed a resolution increasing the percentage of per capita revenue going into our defence fund.
Previously, six per cent of revenues went to the strike fund, and four per cent to the defence fund. Now, each fund will get five per cent of revenues. With the National Strike Fund healthy at $80 million, we can put more resources into organizing, national strategic initiatives and campaigns, while ensuring our strike fund remains strong. If the strike fund drops below $50 million, the split in the percentage of revenues will revert to six per cent, until the fund reaches $80 million.
In 2015, CUPE National contributed $2.7 million to sharing the cost of 56 campaigns with CUPE locals. Across the country, CUPE locals and CUPE National worked together, helping members campaign to:
- Fight contracting out and other forms of privatization
- Protect and promote public services
- Strengthen connections with community members
- Mobilize members
- Support collective bargaining
- Take political action
- Fight cutbacks
- Promote health and safety
CUPE invested a further $2.25 million in local and regional campaigns to protect public services through our national anti-privatization fund.
CUPE members are dedicated to making our communities, and our country, a better place.
One of our biggest fights was in Ontario, where CUPE led the charge against a Liberal government plan to sell 60 per cent of Hydro One. Working in coalition with unions, consumer organizations and other groups, CUPE members campaigned to stop the largest sell-off of a public asset in the province’s history, holding anti-privatization meetings across Ontario and organizing a mass rally at Queen’s Park.
Despite significant victories, the Liberals sold an initial 15 per cent of Hydro One’s shares in November. CUPE will keep fighting to stop any further sales and return the province’s electricity system to public hands.
In Saskatchewan, CUPE members hit the summer barbecue trail as part of the multi-union “Own it!” campaign, and collected nearly 20,000 signatures on a petition against privatization. “Own it!” is engaging members and the public about Premier Brad Wall’s privatization plans, mobilizing members to take action and building for the April 2016 provincial election.
In New Brunswick, CUPE members have adopted a “Stronger Together” action plan to oppose deep cuts to public services. CUPE members are working to engage New Brunswickers in one-on-one conversations, and will also be lobbying every member of the legislative assembly.
CUPE members on Prince Edward Island are also raising awareness about the value of public services. The positive campaign drives home the message that public services touch every aspect of our lives, and keep our communities strong.
Our campaigns hit home in many communities, including in Revelstoke, BC, where the municipal council opted to keep its curbside garbage collection in-house, recognizing it was the most cost-effective way to deliver the service. CUPE 363 mounted an effective fightback campaign at the first sign the city was considering contracting out.
In a win for workers and the public, the City of White Rock, BC bought back its water utility and brought operations back in-house. Direct ownership allows the city to deliver high-quality service and control an important resource. The system will be operated by members of CUPE 402-01.
Other victories include Moncton, where the threat of privatization prompted workers at the city’s wastewater treatment plant to organize with CUPE in 2014. This year, the 10 members of CUPE 5217 began talks for a first collective agreement, as the wastewater commission considered upgrading the plant through a P3. Despite federal P3 pressure and a looming deadline for the upgrades, the commission decided to go ahead publicly.
CUPE 2348 members mobilized to stop cuts to community support workers in Winnipeg schools. The workers are vital resources for vulnerable youth and their families. Parents and community organizers joined a strong delegation from the local to convince the Winnipeg School Division to cancel the cuts. The local is now campaigning for permanent funding for these important positions.
CUPE’s three municipal locals in Calgary (CUPE 37, 38 and 709) continued their campaign to promote public services and fight privatization. This year, the Calgary Parking Authority brought between 80 and 100 positions back in house, returning the work to CUPE 38 members.
In another Alberta win, CUPE 1505 celebrated work coming back in house when the Municipality of Wood Buffalo cancelled its contract with private transit company TKO. All workers are now in-house with wage increases and a pension plan. The local continues to fight contracting out of cleaning and security staff at the Fort McMurray Airport through grievances as well as with rallies, petitions, and presentations to the board.
In Windsor, CUPE 543 members led a spirited campaign to stop the contracting out of 100 municipal caretaking jobs in the city. The city’s inside and outside workers joined forces in a passionate defence of their work at a council meeting. They described how city workers go the extra mile to keep public facilities clean and safe, convincing council to keep caretaking services in-house. The win comes after previous contracting-out setbacks in the city.
CUPE members celebrated in Toronto, where plans to contract out more of the city’s solid waste services are on hold. A key city committee has shelved discussions on further privatization for at least a year, saving 500 good municipal jobs. CUPE 416 members worked with CUPE staff and allies to engage the community and lobby city council about the importance of public services and protecting good jobs.
CUPE locals 79 and 4948 also stepped up their advocacy for good jobs. Nearly half of the workers delivering Toronto’s public services are part-time or temporary with unpredictable hours and no benefits, pension or job security. CUPE 79 spoke up about the rise of inequality in Toronto, and called on the city to be a leader in fighting poverty by creating stable, full-time jobs. The local represents the city’s inside workers.
CUPE 4948 took its campaign for better working conditions at the Toronto Public Library to the streets at public events. In a powerful video, members describe the impact of precarious work. Three-quarters of library workers are women, and half are racialized. The locals are now bringing their call for good jobs to the bargaining table, backed by a joint public campaign.
In Quebec, CUPE mobilized to put the brakes on a planned sale of Radio-Canada’s headquarters in Montreal. The campaign involved a complaint to the Competition Bureau, access to information requests and public demonstrations. The tactics kept the pressure on Radio-Canada’s board of directors and the federal heritage minister. In May, the crown corporation rejected a private consortium’s offer to buy the building, which was part of a P3 scheme.
Years of pressure from CUPE have finally paid off for front-line developmental services workers in Ontario. After five years of no base funding increase in the sector the workers, including 8,500 CUPE members, have received two-year wage increases, thanks to an additional $180 million in provincial funding earmarked for wages for these low-paid workers.
Winnipeg municipal workers used the “Public Plowing Works” campaign to engage residents on the benefits of public snow clearing, advocating for the work to be contracted in. CUPE 500’s campaign included a hotline and website to gather residents’ stories, and a report highlighting the cost savings of bringing snow removal services back in-house.
Sessional and student academic workers at the University of Manitoba, members of CUPE 3909, joined campus allies in two major demonstrations opposing cross-departmental cuts that would affect members, and ongoing privatization of campus services.
Whether it’s a grassroots or national campaign, we win when we mobilize in coalition with community allies.
In British Columbia, college and university workers are highlighting underfunding and its impact on infrastructure and programs with band-aids. CUPE BC’s Colleges Committee, along with some university locals, is spearheading the “Stop the Cuts” campaign.
CUPE also organized a community forum on protecting public education in northern British Columbia that highlighted the impact of deep cuts and chronic underfunding on primary, secondary and post-secondary education. CUPE 3742, 3799, 4951 and 4991 from the K-12, college and university sectors jointly sponsored the event.
CUPE social services workers in Ontario continue to hold the government accountable for its failed Social Assistance Management System (SAMS). The computer system has caused major problems for recipients and prevented front-line workers from delivering the high level of service they provided before the change. CUPE’s protests reached the minister responsible, prompting an independent review. CUPE is now part of a provincial working group and will keep pushing to restore service levels and improve operations at Ontario Works.
In British Columbia, the province’s 4,000 ambulance paramedics and emergency dispatchers ran a province-wide awareness campaign calling on the public to imagine a world without paramedics. The campaign took off on social media, and prompted many heartfelt stories about the life-and-death difference paramedics make for patients.
In New Brunswick, first responders are a step closer getting to workers’ compensation coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder. CUPE 4848, representing New Brunswick paramedics, has been lobbying for changes to the law to allow first responders to be eligible for workers’ compensation for PTSD without having to prove their condition is work-related, a move that speeds up access to treatment. A private members’ bill amending the Workers’ Compensation Act now has all-party support.
The CUPE Ambulance Committee of Ontario organized a lobby day to urge MPPs to help pass a private members’ bill amending the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. The bill would set out that PTSD is a workplace-acquired illness for first responders. Our members lobbied more than 35 MPPs. At the lobby, our members also engaged MPPs about the role of paramedics in pre-hospital care, highlighting their level of training and the scope of their work.
CUPE members also won accolades in their community this year:
- Prince Edward Island school bus driver Vincent Gallant was recognized as the French Language School Board’s 2014-2015 Bus Driver of the Year, celebrating his 20 years of dedication and professionalism. Gallant is CUPE 1770’s regional vice-president.
- School bus driver and CUPE 1770 member, Danny Murnaghan, was recognized by the PEI Home and School Federation. Students, parents and staff at Spring Park Elementary school nominated Murnaghan for the 2015 School Bus Driver Award for carrying out his duties with kindness, consideration and respect for all students in his care.
- CUPE 3967 member Brianne Cannon was voted “Best Nurse” in a “best of” contest run by a Regina weekly newspaper. She is a licensed practical nurse with the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region.
- Peterborough library worker and CUPE 1833 President Adam Coones was recognized as the city’s labour activist of the year by the local labour council. Coones is a regular at city council, where he makes presentations on labour and municipal issues.