Everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains, Canadians are living with regressive or conservative governments. That was the message CUPE National President Mark Hancock brought to the opening day of the CUPE Saskatchewan division convention this week in Saskatoon. “We have come too damn far to just hand back our rights, and back down,” said Hancock.

“Our strength, and our unity, is about to be tested in this country as it’s never been tested before,” said Hancock. “When workers’ rights and labour rights are on the line, you better believe CUPE is going to show up and join in the fight.”

Hancock referenced CUPE’s growing strength in numbers, at over 700,000 members nationwide, and said the union will use its strength and answer the call when its members and the rights of workers are under attack.

And CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury said CUPE is building the organizational capacity and resources in Saskatchewan and across Canada to fight back. “Saskatchewan certainly had its share of challenges in the last few years. There is a lot to do: pushing back, campaigning, defending our work, our workers, and public services. I want to say: you are not alone.”

Fleury noted that 58 new staff positions have been added nationwide in the past three years, and that CUPE has renewed its focus on hiring organizers to bring new, non-unionized workers into CUPE to continue building the union’s strength, including in Saskatchewan.

As right-wing governments continue to attack public services and the workers who provide them, Fleury told delegates that CUPE will put resources on the front line to defend members’ rights.

“I am proud to say: we are ready for the fights ahead.”