CUPE Alberta Re-elects President Marle Roberts

Delegates to CUPE Alberta’s provincial convention today re-elected President Marle Roberts for her third successive term.

“I am honoured and humbled by the confidence our members have shown in me,” Roberts said. “We’ve fought together to save our public pensions and I’m glad to lead CUPE Alberta into the next round of negotiations with the province.”

Roberts was acclaimed to her position.

A former laboratory technician in a wastewater treatment plant in Medicine Hat, Roberts became active in CUPE in 1986. After 10 years of activism, she became president of CUPE Local 46 in 2000.

She was first elected President of CUPE Alberta in 2011 and again in 2013. Roberts was elected General Vice-President of CUPE’s National Executive Board in 2013.

“I am grateful to the delegates and our members across Alberta for their support,” Roberts said. “Together, we are stronger!”

Also elected or re-elected today:

Kim Storebo, General Vice President – South
Scott Cush, Recording Secretary
David Graham, Regional Vice President
Charles (Dustin) Withers, Young Workers Vice President

Alternate Area Vice Presidents:
Sonny Kalynchuk, Edmonton
Bob Anderson, Calgary
Kathy Larson , Northeast
Joan Keough, Red Deer
Michelle Lovin, Northwest
Esther Rodzinyak, Lethbridge
Morgan (Sam) Ferrier, Medicine Hat
Danielle Danis, Fort Murray
Mark Langlois, Three-year Trustee

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CUPE Alberta Executive election results

The following individuals were elected at today’s convention.

Secretary-Treasurer: Colleen Nash (Local 3550)

General Vice President North: Lee-Ann Kalen (Local 1099)

General Vice President South: Troy Killam (Local 40)

Diversity Vice President: Raj Uppal (Local 41)

Area Vice Presidents

Peace River: Tina Robinson (Local 4839)

Ft. McMurray: Danielle Danis (Local 2559)

Northwest: Janet Riopel (Local 1661)

Northeast: Joyce Baker (Local 1606)

Edmonton: Janice Kube (Local 3550)

Red Deer: Brenda Reid (Local 4733)

Calgary: Kelly Spence (Local 8)

Lethbridge: Lawrence Silver (Local 408)

Medicine Hat: Jason Fenske (Local 46)

Alternate Area Vice President

Ft. McMurray: Lynn Fleet (Local 2545)

Trustee 3 Year

Dani Williamson (Local 40)

Notley: No more chaos, no more layoffs

The Leader of Alberta’s NDP used her address to CUPE Alberta’s annual convention to outline some of her plans should she be elected Premier in next year’s expected election.

Rachel Notley promised a government more in tune with the values of Albertans and more respectful of front-line workers.

“After three years of United Conservative scandals and blunders, three years of disrespect, distrust and indifference, we are closer than ever to having a government that stands up for families and actually has the backs of working people,” said Notley.

Notley outlined her plans for K-12 education, of particular interest to CUPE delegates working in that sector. Notley pledged to support children from their earliest learning up to higher education and committed to end the chaos of the last three years.

“More teachers. More educational assistants supporting students with special needs,” pledged Notley. “No more chaos. No more layoffs.”

“We will ensure children have a modern curriculum taught in smaller classrooms.”

Notley took aim at the UCP for Premier Jason Kenney’s privatization of health care. In particular, she slammed Kenney’s comments about ‘union run hospitals.’

“I have a message for Jason Kenney,” said Notley. “CUPE members are better health care, in nursing home rooms, in operating rooms, and in laundry rooms.”

“You deserve a government that respects you for the frontline workers you are.”

Notley promised to reinvest in our public health care system by expanding surgical capacity in the public system, increasing access in rural communities, and addressing backlogs.

“No chaos. No big changes. Just common-sense care,” said Notley. “No more cuts that make your jobs harder or jeopardize patient care, and no more reckless pursuit of privatization.”



RENNICK: CUPE is standing up for Alberta

CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick used her first address to CUPE Alberta to confirm her support of the fightback against Jason Kenney and the UCP.  But she also noted there was still a lot of work to do to change Alberta’s government.

“CUPE National will be there to support you, in every way possible, as you organize for the defeat of the UCP in the 2023 election,” said Rennick.

“We must have thousands of conversations with our members and their voting-age family members. We must explain what Alberta could be with a different government in charge. We must convince members that by voting together they can end the UCP’s reign and set the stage for the change workers need.”

Rennick said that attempts by the UCP to silence unions, like Bill 32, are backfiring because unions are becoming more organized in opposition.

“Jason Kenney thinks he has weakened us through his anti-union laws and his anti-worker budget, but his attacks only serve to strengthen our resolve. While he is struggling for political survival, we will be organizing a union revival.”

Rennick reported that CUPE has added servicing and specialist staff positions, including extending extra staff in Alberta for Bill 32 work, organizing, and a new supernumerary position to provide extra help during this very busy period.

The final issue addressed by Rennick was creating a safe space for members. Rennick reported that CUPE created a safe space working group made up of the women executive members to investigate the problems of discrimination, harassment and bullying within union ranks.

“It is difficult to accept that our organization like other organizations has these problems. But our research, carried out with the assistance of experts, confirms they are widespread,” said Rennick. “The difference between our union and others is we are refusing to sweep the issue under the rug. I am incredibly proud that our working group gave a full and public report to our last national convention.”

“But we are also determined to take preventative steps. This includes finding ways to change the deeply rooted culture that permits and perpetuates this discriminatory, destructive, and anti-democratic behaviour.”



HANCOCK: Fight back against the right

National President Mark Hancock warned delegates that as the pandemic winds down, right-wing forces are working to exploit peoples’ frustrations and use that to dismantle public services.

Hancock said right-wing power is built on stoking fear, anger, and frustration.

“Austerity for them is more than just a way to balance the books. It’s how they create scarcity and convince folks there’ll never be enough to go around.  It’s how they convince people they have to fight each other for scraps, instead of fighting for the wealthiest to pay their fair share.”

Hancock said he was proud of the efforts of CUPE members in New Brunswick, Manitoba and others who have walked picket lines to fight conservative governments and encouraged Alberta delegates to fight hard against the UCP government.

“Winning the fight against austerity doesn’t just happen because we want it to. Whether it’s your local, your sector, or your sector province-wide, we need to get organized, we need to coordinate, and we need to support each other.”

And even if Jason Kenney is removed from the Premier’s office, Hancock asked delegates to keep pushing for a better government.

“Whether UCP members give Kenney the boot or not, it isn’t going to be enough to replace him with a new face. We need a new party in power.”


RORY GILL: We are wining the fight against the UCP

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says Albertans are winning the fight against the UCP, and they know it.

“We see it in the polls, we see it in the party fundraising numbers, and we see it and hear it in our conversations with co-workers, friends and family,” said Gill. “Everyone is tired of these guys. We’re tired of the excuses, the lies the poor economy, and the terrible approach to COVID.”

Gill said the leadership review itself is evidence the UCP knows it needs to do everything it can to stay in power.

The President also spoke about the struggles of the last year, with Locals dealing with COVID, vaccine mandates, masks and other pandemic issues.

“I am proud of how CUPE worked to protect our members and the public in these most difficult of times,” said Gill. “Local leaders have had little help from government or employers, but you have all been professional, empathetic, and determined.”

Gill also addressed bargaining issues, with a particular emphasis on the K-12 sector.

“Staff in the K-12 sector have not seen meaningful wage increases in over seven years.

The average Educational Assistant in Alberta makes just $27,495 per year. This is a position that requires a minimum of one year of post-secondary education and is entrusted with the care and education of some of the most vulnerable students in our society.

We need to make the education of our children a profession which attracts the best and the brightest, not chase them away.”