Opening Night


Well, it’s all begun…here’s a snap of delegates Lily Gee and Jennifer Kuun conferring with CUPE staffer and 391 member (she’s seconded) Heather Inglis. (Click on photos in the blog to enlarge them).

Convention opening is all about looking back at the past year’s accomplishments. As an organization, CUPE BC has accomplished a lot, and I am proud to say that our Local has been on the forefront of many of the campaigns – not the least of which was our support of the teachers of British Columbia in October.

Elder Rose LaPointe from the Musqueam Nation welcomed the delegates. Vancouver City Councillor David Cadman addressed the convention, emphasizing the importance of fighting against the privatization of public services…

“we must leave the best public services in the world to our children and grandchildren.”

He also emphasized that presently half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and it is necessary for national governments to fund services at local levels.

Bill Saunders, President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, lauded CUPE for being front and centre in every labour issue, and identified our support as crucial in fighting against eroding labour rights. In a private conversation with him later in the evening, he told me that he believes CUPE is leading the way in at least six different vital labour battles, and cannot believe the level of commitment and solidarity he is seeing.

A ten minute video was shown (very funny _and_ inspiring), that highlighted the events of the past year – from the Telus lockout, to marching with municipal workers in Whistler, to the BCTF rallies—that showed some of how much was accomplished in the past year.

Finally, President Barry O’Neill took the podium for his address. (For the complete text of his speech, please click here). A popular leader, he always wins over crowds with his gruff yet genial speaking style. Barry stated…“My proudest moment as a labour leader was last October, when CUPE walked off the job in support of teachers.” One of our biggest tasks, he says, is to continue to challenge the privatization of public services and resources. This was highlighted by CUPEs fight to keep water and sewer services public on Vancouver Island. It’s scary to think how close so many jurisdictions came to contracting out such a basic necessity of life.

DSCF3383After adjournment at approximately 9:15, everyone (except Peter, who had a CARD committee caucus), retired to the ballroom for schmoozing. Ross Bliss (left) was performing with his amazing trio (I love his music…even more than I love Raffi’s!).

We will try and keep you updated throughout the convention as we get chances to hook up to the internet. We are meeting at 8:30 tomorrow morning to go over our strategy for the day. I heard tonight that one of the first resolutions up will be on childcare, and one of us will probably speak to that in support of our many ECE colleagues in Local 15.

The tone of this convention appears to be very positive.

It’s been a long, hard year for CUPE…and while elections and labour disputes certainly did not all go our way, we made a lot of gains, and the satisfaction of a job well done with solid leadership should see us through the next couple of days without lots of contention.