This spring, two of your CUPE 3911 Executives - Natalie Sharpe and Vanee Narayanan - attended the Canadian Labour Congress's 28th Constitutional Convention in Toronto, May 7-12.
To learn more about the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the convention proceedings, view their summary notes below:
CLC represents 3.3 million workers in Canada; approximately 3000 delegates attended the 28th Convention.
The theme of the 2017 CLC conference was Together for a Fair Future envisioning fair workplaces, and a fair and prosperous Canadian society.
The four areas of focus were: Fair Workplaces; Equity for All Workers; Green Jobs for Future Working Generations; and Organizing for a Fair Future for all Workers (the 70% of unorganized workers in Canada).
There were special evening forums on Human Rights, Young Workers, Workers of Colour, Women Workers, Aboriginal Workers, etc.
A relatively quiet election this time; Executive for 2017 – 2020 are: Acclaimed President Hassan Yussuff (second 3-year term); new Secretary-Treasurer Marie Clarke Walker (former Executive Vice-President); returning Executive Vice-President Donald Lefleur and new Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau. There was some debate over a pay raise for senior executive (5%) but it passed.
There were also new equity representatives for: LGBTQ; young workers; workers of colour; aboriginal workers; disability rights; and regional representatives across Canada.
CLC just launched an online Mental Health Resource Centre.
CLC announced the federal government will ratify the ILO Convention 98. This is the right of workers to organize, defend and improve their rights and conditions at work, and to work in freedom and dignity. The Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention of 1949 protects all workers from anti-union discrimination. This ratification would help to reinforce all recent decisions made by the Supreme Court of Canada to protect union rights, and influence provincial decisions in the same direction.
There was a call for a Just Transition for a greener economy; the creation of more jobs in Canada and the end of precarious work; and a minimum wage of $15 across Canada.
There was a tribute to former CLC President Bob White (passed away in February, 2017) for dedicating his life to the union and providing leadership to the Union movement.
There was a minute of silence for fallen workers.
There was a special tribute to the Westray workers (25th anniversary of the Westray Mine explosion that killed 26 coalminers) and the federal government’s promise to ensure that the Westray Law will be enforced to prosecute employers putting workers at risk.
Angela Davis, Black rights activist. spoke at the human rights forum about the need to revitalize the labour movement with particular focus on attaining racial justice (with a special focus on advancing the rights of First Nations people), gender justice and economic justice.
CLC saluted the 100th anniversary of The Canadian Press for “telling the truth”.
Indigenous activist Cindy Blackstock received the CLC Humanitarian Award for her fight against the discrimination of aboriginal children; on-reserve children receive up to 40% less funding of other children requiring social aid.
Candy Palmater, Metis lawyer, activist and feminist comedian talked about union solidarity, the importance of women in unions, and the need to love yourself.
Rachel Notley, Alberta premier, talked about labour gains in the province, such as the minimum wage increase to $15/hr by 2018; increasing childcare spaces; increasing access to health care services, freezing post-secondary tuition fees; and greening the Alberta economy.
There was a moving tribute to missing and murdered indigenous women.
There was a strong presence of indigenous workers at the conference. Many empowered speakers told the story of their colonization; one Inuit showed her red identity tag that she was required to wear around her neck to identify herself to government officials. She was known and called officially by her letter and number ID, not by her personal name.
A new CLC-United Way Scholarship has been set up for first year post-secondary students who are members or have family members in CLC.
There was a creative road map exercise on union organizing and mobilizing on the last day of convention, spearheaded by many young workers, primarily children of ethnic minority immigrants (second generations).
Additional highlights included resolutions to advocate trade agreements based on fair trade principles; to advocate an affordable, high quality, accessible, national, publicly-managed childcare system; to campaign for a national, single-payer, public prescription drug plan (Pharmacare); to improve access to EI benefits; to proactively promote pay equity legislation, thereby removing the gender wage gap and reducing gender-based economic inequality; to protect both our steel industry and forestry sectors; to fight water privatization and protect Canada’s waterways, and keep Canada’s water clean.