Young and new workers were centre stage on the last day of CUPE’s first ever national bargaining conference.
Throughout the conference, young and new worker delegates have been meeting to discuss the unique challenges facing them in the workplace, and in the union. A group of them took to the stage to offer their perspectives on what CUPE can do to better involve and represent young and new members.
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“Education is essential for us. You need to teach us about the history of our union…. It’s important for us to know where we came from,” said Jérôme Lebel, CUPE 675. “This will allow us to know what the consequences of inaction are.”
“Unions are full of challenges, and we are ready to rise to the challenges,” added Michelle Brideau, CUPE 4708.
Following a standing ovation for the young and new workers, the conference ended with a wrap up of the delegate’s discussions. Focusing on a vision of CUPE building ‘freedom to pursue common goals’ in Canada, the recurring ideas and themes of the conference were presented.
Charles Fleury, national secretary-treasurer of CUPE, closed the conference by commending the over 1,000 delegates and staff for their work over the four day gathering.
“Your ideas, your energy, your commitment, and the fantastic turnout of delegates to this conference show that bargaining remains at the core of our work as union,” said Fleury. “And your discussions here show that any speculation that the labour movement is losing steam is false, absolutely false.”
While praising the wide range of ideas and spirited discussions heard during the conferences plenaries and workshops, Fleury stressed the need to keep the work up when delegates return to their locals.
“We have reason for optimism, but we also recognize that the challenges facing us are huge,” said Fleury. “We need to be in the workplace, talking to our members, encouraging them to get informed and be involved all the time. We can’t wait until there’s a crisis.”
In closing, Fleury told delegates, “Sisters and Brothers, we are all in this together…. I hope you will leave here today, taking a bit of the energy and ideas and vision with you. I hope you will go back home with a new resolve to talk to your members about the issues and information discussed here, to help spread this conversation into every CUPE workplace in Canada so our members understand and want to act.”
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