CUPE offers solidarity to those affected by wildfires

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) offers our support and solidarity to those affected by the wildfires in Alberta. Over 29,000 Albertans have been forced to evacuate their homes over the last week.

“CUPE is deeply concerned for the families in the evacuated communities,” said Rory Gill, CUPE Alberta President. “We stand in full support of the first responders and emergency personnel who are keeping Albertans safe around the clock through this difficult and traumatic time.”

CUPE represents over 40,000 members in Alberta, including locals in the Town of Edson, Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie, and elsewhere that have been forced to leave their homes. CUPE is urging all of its members in these areas to adhere to evacuation orders.

CUPE members working with Associated Ambulance in Drayton Valley and Breton have been on the ground supporting and relocating patients in hospitals affected by the fires to safer communities.

This is already the worst wildfire season Alberta has experienced since the devastating Fort McMurray fire in 2016. Right now, Alberta needs a leader who has experience in keeping people safe and who is committed to addressing the environmental challenges that make these devastating wildfires possible.

Updates on the situation and information for people affected by the wildfires and evacuation are available at

International Workers’ Day – Webinar

May 1st is marked throughout the world as May Day or International Workers’ Day. This is the day when the workers of the world take to the streets in major cities around the globe demanding justice, fairness, and dignity for all.

We are inviting members to join us for a webinar on Monday, May 1st at 6:30pm to celebrate International Workers’ Day, and to learn more about how workers in Alberta are connected to global struggles in the Philippines, Palestine and elsewhere.

To register for this event please email Clay Gordon, President CUPE Local 40 at:

Rally for Wood Buffalo Employees

Approximately 150 delegates from CUPE Alberta Convention participated in a noisy rally in downtown Fort McMurray to support Wood Buffalo municipal employees embroiled in a difficult round of bargaining.

“The rally today was to express frustration with the city and their bargaining position,” said CUPE 1505 President Craig Milley. “They’ve given workers five pages of concessions. They talk about how they value front-line workers, but they don’t live up to those words.

The Local has been in mediation for over a year and Milley says the City is being untruthful when speaking about negotiations.

“The city needs to start bargaining fairly, without the small print and hidden concessions. They need to treat all employees as equals.”

Vipond: Winning for workers can be accomplished by working together

The Executive Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress addressed CUPE Alberta’s convention with news of successes at the federal level.

“In just the last two years, the CLC has won major victories for workers, including 10 paid sick days and pay equity language in the federal sector,” said Vipond. “We have lobbied for and won dental care and we are a few days away from pharmacare. Canada finally has a National Childcare Policy.”

Victories aside, Vipond noted there is still a lot of work to do. The affordability crisis is hurting workers harder than most and noted that the labour movement is working to change this.

“We have been lobbying hard for the federal government to implement measures that will curb corporate greed, tax appropriately and lift the burden of the rising cost of living off our shoulders,” said Vipond. “We are working towards federal policies that will better protect workers’ incomes, including improvements to Employment Insurance and a national pharmacare program.”


Rennick: change is within our grasp

Speaking out about governments who ‘refer to front-line workers as heroes while refusing to recognize their real value’ CUPE Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick encouraged delegates to fight for better wages and working conditions for all, and in particular for the lowest paid.

“Raising the wage and benefits floor, is the best way to ensure that the quality of public services improves,” said Rennick.

Rennick said the first step towards improving the lives of Alberta workers has to be changing the government in the provincial election on May 29th.

“We sure need big change in Alberta—we need Rachel Notley as premier.”

“Danielle Smith revealed her vision of what health care should be. She said maybe Albertans should start paying for visits to the doctor. She mused about charging patients a portion of the cost of major surgeries” said Rennick. “She is not a person to trust—not with our health, and not with our lives.”

After the election, Rennick told delegates to work hard to gain ground at the bargaining table. And she pledged that CUPE would provide the financial support to achieve those goals. Rennick pointed to her first budget as Secretary-Treasurer as setting the stage for those battles.

“Every new available dollar has gone to increase staffing positions and programs across the country,” said Rennick. “National programs and services that you count on are strengthened. Support for provincial divisions is going up and new staff positions are being put in place in every region of the country including Alberta.”

Rennick also mentioned the CUPE Safe Union Spaces Working Group addressing harassment and gender-based discrimination and violence within CUPE.

“Making our union safer for all—is a collective responsibility that involves all of us. It is an ongoing responsibility, one that won’t have an endpoint, but one that will make us stronger.”



Hancock: If we engage workers we can’t be stopped

“Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean that politics won’t take an interest in you.”

CUPE National President Mark Hancock quoted the Greek philosopher Pericles in his address to the CUPE Alberta convention to make the point that CUPE members have to engage in the upcoming Alberta provincial election.

“Danielle Smith is hoping no one is paying attention,” said Hancock. “Her plan to crush public health care and gamble Albertans’ pensions only works if everyday people like us aren’t paying attention.”

“That’s precisely why it’s our job to sound the alarm, to get organized, and to fight back.”

Hancock pointed to union victories in New Brunswick and Ontario where CUPE members fought off conservative government attacks on public services and education. Hancock said he was particularly proud of the 55,000 education workers who fought education cuts and made Premier Doug Ford reverse course.

“It reminded us that even when our backs are against the wall, there is nothing stronger than the collective power of CUPE members and working people.”

Hancock listed the ways Danielle Smith and the UCP have been waging war on Alberta workers and took particular attention to the fact Smith wants to take Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan.

“I wouldn’t trust Danielle Smith and the UCP to manage a Tim Horton’s drive-thru, never mind the retirement security of over four million Albertans.”

“We have to seize this opportunity to step up our fight, to engage our rank and file, and to lead our members into the fight.”


Gill: We must fire the UCP

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill asked CUPE members across Alberta to do everything possible to ensure a new government is elected on May 29th.

“If Danielle Smith has gets a democratic mandate, she’s going to cut your job,” said Gill.  “She will gut your pension, she will ruin your health, overcrowd your schools, charge you more for energy, she’ll even charge you for health care.”

“We’re not making this up. These are all things she’s either talked about openly or started to put in place.”

Gill reported that CUPE has been fighting the UCP for four years and is ready for the election campaign. CUPE has advertisements on the airways, plans and resources to talk to members and encourage them to work in local NDP campaigns.

Gill pledged his personal support for Rachel Notley and the NDP. “Every problem we face as a union will be worse if Danielle Smith gets four years,” said Gill. “On the flip side, every problem we face as a union will improve if we elect Rachel Notley and the NDP.”

Specifically, Rachel Notley and the NDP have promised:

  • Fair and respectful bargaining for public sector workers, including the K-12 workers who have not gotten a wage increase in seven years.
  • New schools, hospitals, and better-funded post-secondary institutions.
  • A plan to give one million Albertans access to a family medical team