Labour Day an opportunity to reflect, celebrate and prepare for action
By CUPE BC President Jim Faoro
As we near another
Labour Day, leaders of major unions in B.C. are often asked for their thoughts.
It seems to me that the collective voices of hundreds of thousands of working
people might warrant at least a little ongoing media attention during the rest
of the year, especially when compared to the hundreds of column inches
dedicated to the views of anti-union business lobbyists like the Canadian
Federation of Independent Businesses or the Independent Contractors and Businesses
Be that as it may, I am
the President of the British Columbia Division of the Canadian Union of Public
Employees, or CUPE BC, and we are the largest union in the province. In fact,
just a short while before Labour Day, the latest CUPE membership numbers were
released, showing a significant increase in our membership—we now represent
more than 92,000 British Columbians delivering important public services in
almost every community in B.C.
This Labour Day I
thought it would be appropriate to reflect on some of the reasons for our
significant and rapid growth. The number one factor has been the increased
emphasis on organizing from our national union, a priority that CUPE BC
strongly supports. We’ve bucked the overall trend of declining union membership
both here in B.C. and across the country—CUPE National’s membership is now more
than 665,000, and that’s not counting the recent successful organization of 3,000
West Jet flight attendants into CUPE membership.
reason for our growth has been the increasing realization on the part of
workers that in an era of declining wages and growing unaffordability, holding
a union card is one of the most effective ways to build a better life for
workers and their families.
CUPE members—and CUPE
BC—are dedicated to building strong communities, and we’re continuing that
important work. Not “just” by delivering the important public services that
make our communities such great places to live and work, but by ensuring that
CUPE members know what’s at stake in the October local elections and vote in
their own interests.
And we’re campaigning
hard with our members to support a “Yes” vote in the referendum on proportional
representation that immediately follows the local elections.
Labour Day is a great
time to wind up another spectacular B.C. summer by enjoying time with friends
and family. This weekend, as we enjoy the barbeque or the deck, let’s get ready
for the next few months. If we all pull together, we can ensure we elect more
progressive local governments and show the rest of the country what progressive
electoral change really looks like.
CUPE BC is the largest
union in British Columbia, representing more than 92,000 workers delivering
important public services in almost every community in the province.