National President’s Column

A lot has changed since our union was founded in 1963.

But two things remain constant today: public services continue to be important equalizers in our communities and our members who deliver them are under attack.

Governments continue to cut corporate taxes, starving public coffers of the resources needed to deliver important services to Canadians. Workers are being asked to make up the shortfall through lower wages, lesser benefits, and diminishing working conditions.

We continue to face austerity agendas and attacks on workers’ rights both at the bargaining table and in legislatures across the country. We have seen a sharp rise in the number of employers seeking concessions and two-tier provisions in our collective agreements. Governments of all stripes are restructuring the services our members provide and looking for ways to privatize those same services.

As Canada’s largest union, representing 643,000 workers across sectors in every province, we have a responsibility to fight back on behalf of our members and all workers across the country. I know that we are stronger and achieve so much more when we stand shoulder to shoulder. That’s why I am proud of the renewed collective bargaining policy adopted by our National Executive Board this past December.

It’s our strategy to protect collective agreement rights, resist demands for concessions and two-tier contract provisions, and defend every worker’s right to free collective bargaining. And it’s our blueprint for solidarity across the board, to ensure CUPE locals and members are ready to stand together and fight back against attacks during bargaining.

We’re equipping our locals with the resources they need to fight concessions and two-tier contract proposals. And we’re asking them to negotiate better provisions for precarious workers and protection against workplace violence. We’re developing a coordinated bargaining approach in every region so that we can lead from a position of strength.  And we’re committing to political action to defeat any government that attacks our bargaining rights.

Corporate interests and austerity-pushing politicians across the country know that we are unstoppable when we work together. So, together, let’s stand strong against attacks on workers’ rights, and set a course for a fairer and more equal Canada.