Saunders: Our unions will never give up – 2015 Cupe National Convention November 3, 2015 Summary

Saunders: Our unions will NEVER give up

AFCSME President Lee Saunders inspired delegates today with a stirring speech about the labour movement’s durability despite the ongoing and relentless attacks against it.

Challenging CUPE members to stand together against attacks on working people and to protect our past victories, Saunders said that we are in the fight of our lives.

The Friedrichs case currently before U.S. courts attacks our ability to speak up for working people, he said. On the other hand, our members and our unions will still be around long after the current politicians are gone.

“We hung in, we fought back, we organized and we won our rights back,” said Saunders, adding that we must collectively speak out for fairness, equity, wages, retirement security and vital public services.

Brother Saunders also paid tribute to Paul Moist, thanking CUPE’s National President for his outspoken leadership in fighting for economic justice and fairness for all working families.

Strategic Directions: Strengthening our union

The first round of Strategic Directions discussions focused on CUPE’s plan to strengthen and expand our membership.

Delegates spoke about the importance of organizing precarious workers, including young workers, and building a more diverse union. Bargaining strong and inclusive contracts is key to this strategy.

Delegates called for increased efforts to protect public services as another way to fight for good, full-time, secure jobs.

Time for a global labour agenda: Pavanelli

With union rights constantly under attack the time has come for a united global labour front to resist neoliberalism, said Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public Services International (PSI).

Workers are under more pressure than ever to coordinate their efforts, she said.

“We are the only barrier to complete profit for the corporate sector and the limits they want to put on us,” said Pavanelli, noting that PSI is fighting hard at the International Labour Organization for the right to organize and the right to strike.

Highlighting strategies to deal with mental injuries

Attendees at the Health and Safety Forum shared stories and strategies on how to understand and prevent mental injuries in the workplace. Speakers urged delegates to recognize increasing workloads are leading to rising stress levels. They shared tactics on coping with mental injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), caused by critical incidents.

Over the last two years a new Health and Safety Learning Series was developed and launched at last night’s forum.

CUPE’s Health and Safety representatives also introduced a new violence prevention kit containing tools and tips for members in the workplace.

Katie McGovern wins Grace Hartman Award

Katie McGovern, a union and community activist from CUPE 4400, is the winner of this year’s Grace Hartman Award for her ground breaking labour and community campaigns.

McGovern was unable to attend convention but urged delegates through a written statement to “take joy in the struggle” and advance “an agenda for all of us.” Yolanda McLean, CUPE 4400, accepted the award on her behalf.

Elizabeth Paris receives Ed Blackman Award

Recipient of the inaugural Ed Blackman Award, Elizabeth Paris of CUPE 2330, is a true example of how CUPE activists affect positive change in the community. Her efforts to fight for racial and social justice are an inspiration to all members.

“The CUPE rainbow is an unbreakable force,” said Paris.


  • 8 p.m.   Global Justice Forum, West Ballroom C & D


  • 12 p.m.   Rally: Canada is Ready for The Leap, Jack Poole Plaza outside the Convention Centre.

Source: Saunders: Our unions will never give up – Convention Bulletin

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