Member Education, Political Action and New Organising

By: Orion Keresztesi (President)

It is November and the new executive team has settled into our roles and got to work. In August we met to chart our priorities for the coming year based on the discussions at convention. I am particularly excited about our plans for member education and political action.

Tamara, Evan, and Gilary are spearheading our new education efforts. Working with staff they are developing new trainings and discussions for stewards so all stewards can feel confident in their role. Stewards’ Council on November 28 will kick off the new trainings, and we are all hoping for a strong turn-out of stewards. We are also working to be more proactive about encouraging members to take advantage of funding available for them to attend CUPE workshops. We are glad to report that we received more interest in educationals than in past years and we have been able to disburse the entirety of the funding that was earmarked for CUPE’s Fall School.

In the political action department we hope to continue 1281’s tradition of being a voice for equity in the labour movement, and to help mobilize for the $15 and Fairness campaign. We had a strong showing at the October 1 Rally for Decent Work. As Evan discusses in more detail, the $15 and Fairness campaign is continuing to be very effective at mobilizing workers and winning indirect and direct political victories. As 1281 members when we rally behind the campaign and participate in it we are contributing to building a militant labour movement that fights on behalf of all working people. Trump’s victory in the U.S. underscores that people are fed up with the neoliberal status quo everywhere. We know on the ground organizing will be key to us building a left-wing articulation of that anger and depriving the racist far-right of their populist talking points. The widespread horror at Trump’s victory presents an important opportunity to pull new activists into the indigenous solidarity, migrant rights, climate justice, $15 and Fairness and Black Lives Matter movements. There are many 1281 members deeply involved in the work of each of those struggles and I hope as a union we will continue to find ways to support them.

Sadly, 1281 must continue our moratorium on new organizing. Workplaces continue to reach out to 1281 in the hopes of joining. However, as an executive, we feel we are not currently in a position to offer new members the servicing they would need and deserve. We are working with the Organizing Committee to ensure that the moratorium will be temporary. When we lift the moratorium we need to organize according to a strategic plan that will allow us to increase our resources to match our servicing needs. If you know of a workplace that may be interested in joining 1281 please contact me. We are committed to new organizing, because all workers deserve a union, and the lucky ones deserve 1281!

This article was published in the November 2016 edition of the CUPE 1281 newsletter. Click here for a PDF of the full newsletter or here to browse the website for other articles in the newsletter.