NDP Leader Rachel Notley used her speech to CUPE Alberta’s convention to articulate an alternative economic approach to Jason Kenney’s ‘fiscal reckoning.’
Notley said UCP Leader Jason Kenney is attacking the public sector and the people who work in it.
“They’re doubling down on things they explicitly promised NOT to do, like cutting access to mental health, cutting access to prescription drugs for seniors, cutting support for special needs students and going after AISH clients.”
Notley said CUPE members and other front-line workers are being hardest hit by UCP cuts. She noted that municipalities are being starved for resources and are forced to raise taxes, cut wages, cut people or a combination of all three.
“They’re doing all of this so they can pay for their great, big, fat, $4.7 billion dollar handout to profitable corporations,” said Notley. “They’re going after you. All of you who work in health care, in our schools, our municipalities, our post-secondaries, our non-profits. You are the target of his fiscal reckoning.”
Notley says her party will release an economic plan in the coming weeks. She says her plan must be based on the principal that public services are important and that Alberta cannot get ahead by racing to the bottom with low wages and working conditions.
National Secretary Treasurer Charles Fleury addressed the Alberta convention with a message of solidarity and support in our fights with the Kenney government. But he was also practical about where the union stands in the midst of the COVID crisis.
“CUPE National has the resources to continue to offer the services our members count on,” said Fleury. “Fortunately, CUPE’s finances were very strong when the pandemic hit, allowing us to support all chartered organizations and members during these hard times.”
Fleury noted that CUPE National has supported Alberta last year and this in amounts of over $1.3 million each year for campaign support.
“You can count on CUPE National full support for these historic legal battles. Nobody will ever shut CUPE up!”
“First responders and health care workers saving lives, education and childcare workers finding new ways to support children, and municipal workers keeping communities clean and safe, you kept communities strong during the most trying days of our lives.”
“And when this is over, we’re going to make sure nobody forgets it.”
Hancock said COVID-19 has exposed and worsened problems and inequalities in Canada.
“It has rocked our overworked and underfunded health care system. It left millions of people out of work,” said Hancock. “It’s in times like these that we need our union and our movement more than ever.”
Hancock took aim at Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for using the pandemic as cover for an agenda of punishing workers and cutting health care.
“Rather than supporting health care workers, Jason Kenney has picked a fight with Alberta doctors. And he barely lifted a finger to help workers fighting back outbreaks in long-term care.”
“The pandemic hasn’t stopped Jason Kenney’s assault on workers’ and public services. But it sure as hell isn’t going to stop us from fighting back either!”
CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill laughs about the fact his son calls him, “President Timing.”
Gill took office only a few weeks before Jason Kenney was elected. Shortly after, the new Premier started a campaign of cutbacks and fights with working people.
“For four years, Marle Roberts got to report progress union members were making,” said Gill. “That is not my fate. Marle got out before things got…interesting.”
Gill said the threat posed by Jason Kenney is far worse than anything faced by CUPE in the past.
“Never before have we had a government so committed to breaking unions and benefiting the rich. Jason Kenney and the UCP are a threat to working people, to health care, to education and to a civilized society. If we do not slow down his agenda and defeat him, Alberta will never be the same.”
Gill explained how Kenney lied to get elected. The Alberta UCP leader promised lower taxes, less debt, more jobs, and no cuts to services.
“On every issue, he’s delivered the exact opposite.”
According to Gill, Jason Kenney promised his corporate tax cut would create 50,000 new jobs. Instead, Alberta lost 50,000 jobs before the pandemic and over 200,000 more since. Gill called Bill 32 an attempt to “tie us up in paperwork, fine us and even jail us if we speak our minds.”
“No ideological, right wing-troll government is going to stop CUPE.”
Gill outlined the work done to fight Bill 32 and the Kenney government. And he called on activists to do even more.
“The challenges in the coming year are not small. They feel daunting. But no one has to face them alone. We are 40,000 strong in Alberta. We are 700,000 strong in Canada.”
“I ask of you what I commit of myself – do what you can. Do your part. Take care of our fellow members. Don’t take any abuse from our government.
Together, we will face our challenges. Together, we will win.”
FORT MCMURRAY- Nineteen childcare workers at Eagle Ridge Nest Child Care Centre have joined CUPE after a certification vote held August 20, 2020.
CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill welcomed the group into CUPE. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for families and businesses across Alberta and childcare is no exception,” said Gill. “As workers at Eagle Nest work through the challenges and uncertainty that this year has brought, these workers decided they wanted to have the protection of Canada’s largest union, better treatment from their employer and respect for the services they provide.”
“By joining CUPE, they are in a better position to face these uncertain times.”
CUPE represents 12,000 childcare workers across Canada.
EDMONTON – CUPE Alberta is calling on the UCP government to use newly announced federal funding to reduce class sizes across Alberta schools by hiring more teachers.
“With class sizes at current levels, it doesn’t matter what PPE students and teachers have, because physical distancing will be impossible,” said CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill. “No thanks to the UCP, the federal government has come through with extra funding for Alberta schools. We are calling on the UCP to use this money as effectively as possible by making class sizes smaller and therefore safer for students and education workers.”
Alberta will receive just over 262 million dollars from the federal government for back-to-school preparations. CUPE Alberta has repeatedly called for the UCP to take action to protect students and education workers by properly funding cleaning and sanitizations and capping class sizes.
CUPE represents over 8,700 education workers across Alberta. Members work as education assistants, librarians, custodial staff, trades and facilities, bus drivers and administrative support across Alberta.
EDMONTON- CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill released the following video message after the Minister of Education refused an emergency meeting with him on behalf of 8,700 CUPE members who work in the education sector.
Gill requested the meeting as the Government of Alberta sends students and education workers back to school with no plan in place to keep them safe during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Premier Jason Kenney is reopening schools without measures to make sure students and staff are safe. The current “plan” includes no funding for extra cleaning and sanitization, no class size caps, and no physical distancing. Kenney already laid off more than 20,000 educational assistants, custodial workers and other professionals.
CUPE Alberta is calling on Albertans to send a message to Jason Kenney and the government and demand to keep schools safe. Have your say at www.keepschoolssafe.ca.