Why we march

Article by Donna Gray, Andrea Calver, and Cheryl Athersych

We are marching because we are humans. We believe in the equality of all people – full stop, no exceptions.  But we worry the most about the vulnerable communities we know Donald Trump and the Republicans will target most forcibly. We march with them and for them.

We are marching because we are CUPE 1281 members and union activists.  The kleptocracy that is the Donald Trump cabinet will not protect or extend workers’ existing rights, reduce inequality, create good jobs or bring dignity and respect to American workplaces. Progress on workers’ rights will only come from ALL workers globally standing in solidarity, just as it always has. Some things never change, but some days the stakes are higher, and the wins take more effort from all of us. These are those days.

We are marching because we are women. Donald Trump will try and undermine our human rights, and particularly our reproductive rights, at every opportunity. He needs to know, see and viscerally feel, that women around the world are resolved to resist and STOP HIM.  Our compass has only one direction – forward. 

And finally, we are marching because we are Canadians, we are Ontarians, and we are Torontonians. We have no illusions that our country/province/city is more tolerant; that the election of a fascist  “couldn’t happen here”. Make no mistake about it – it can, it has, and if we become complacent or give up, it will get worse. The election of Donald Trump must be a wake-up call for democrats everywhere.

Donna Gray, Andrea Calver, and Cheryl Athersych (pictured above) are CUPE 1281 members from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) sub-unit. They will be marching in Washington on January 21st 2017 in protest of the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America.


Keep Fighting for $15 and Fairness

By: Evan Johnson (Co-Chief Steward)

Since its launch in spring 2015, the Fight for $15 and Fairness has been building a broad and vibrant campaign that unites union and non-union workers together in a common struggle. It’s a struggle that seeks to improve working conditions for all, regardless of what industry you work in, and regardless of whether you work part-time, full-time, or on contract.

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Update from the 519 area code

By: Christopher Currie (Co-Chief Steward)

On September 5, while other execs were slowly marching through the Toronto Labour Day parade route, I was overseeing a table for the Guelph & District Labour Council (GDLC)’s Labour Day picnic. The vibe of this event, as in past years, was an odd mix of community gathering and activist fair: folk singers and children’s games existed side-by-side with $15 and Fairness and the decolonial beats of Darius Mirshahi.

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Making every vote count – why proportional representation is better for Canada

By: Brynne Sinclair-Waters (Recording Secretary)

Following up on the Liberals’ 2015 election promise, the federal government is reviewing our voting system. The Special Committee on electoral reform – appointed to study alternate voting systems, mandatory voting and online voting – has travelled the country to hear from Canadians.

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CUPE 1281 Newsletter

Our latest newsletter includes articles on the fight for free post-secondary education, $15 and Fairness, the Election Reform, and much more.

Click here to read the latest CUPE 1281 newsletter. If you wish to download the PDF, right click on the link and select “Save Target As.”

We’ve also added each article to the website for increased accessibility. You can find articles pertaining to this newsletter under the tag “November 2016” or by clicking here. Please let your Communications Officer know if we can do more to increase the accessibility of the articles for yourself and/or your colleagues.

If you are a CUPE 1281 member wishing to submit an article for your next newsletter, please make sure to e-mail it to your Communications Officer by Friday December 9th 2016. Please note that the CUPE 1281 executive reserves the right to select pieces for inclusion in the newsletter.

A Case for Free Post-Secondary Education

By: Paige Galette (CUPE 1281 Treasurer)

Let’s be clear: universal access to education is far from being a reality for students across Canada. Class sizes are on the rise, recent graduates struggle to work countless hours to pay down student debt, and even professors are pushed into increasingly precarious positions as part-time and contract work become the norm everywhere, including on university campuses. Meanwhile, university Presidents benefit the most, as some make 6 figure incomes while exacerbating the corporatization of campus, giving more space to banks and private companies than they do to average students, researchers and members of the academic community.

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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.

How we can #KeepHydroPublic

By: Denise Martins (Communications Officer)

On September 14th 2016, CUPE Ontario announced that they’ll be launching a lawsuit against the Ontario Government (Premier Kathleen Wynne, Finance Minister Charles Sousa and former Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli) for malfeasance for their move to privatize our hydro systems without consent from the public.

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