CUPE 1281 is proud to sign onto the below declaration calling for a divestment from police and prisons and an investment into safe and more just communities. A new world is possible, but only if we take action now. The Labour Movement must commit to working from an anti-colonial lens and fighting back against deeply ingrained white supremacy. If you’re from a labour union we encourage you to join us in signing onto the below declaration by filling out the Google form here.

We can choose to build safe communities!We, the undersigned, are invested in building safe communities for all. We believe that as a society we are capable of preventing harm and violence differently than the failed punitive approaches governments fund today. And we believe that it’s possible to come together to STOP the expansion of policing and imprisonment, as well as move away from a reliance on policing, jails, prisons and immigration detention. We believe that we can invest, instead, in real safety for our communities by addressing the root causes of harm and violence in our society.

We are living through a historic moment of protest against the rampant colonial, racial, gender, sexual and economic injustice in our society. This is guided by a renewed understanding that we can choose another way forward. For some time now, Black, Indigenous, racialized, and gender-oppressed people, migrants, those living with mental health issues and disabilities, people who use criminalized drugs, and people without housing have experienced the harms of policing and incarceration instead of support. We recognize the violent infrastructure of prisons and policing also negatively impacts the land, water, air, and other-than-human beings through environmental degradation, disrupted relations, and capitalist extraction. Our public funding of policing, jails, prisons and immigration detention vastly exceeds the funds allocated to public housing, income assistance, childcare and mental health support. We can choose differently.

We wish to stand on the right side of history. We believe we can build a society that values human and other-than-human life and the land, and we commit to shifting away from using badges, guns and cages to manage inequality. Since early winter, rising COVID-19 rates have again made people held in congregate settings like homeless shelters, psychiatric centres and prisons more acutely vulnerable to outbreaks. We must release as many people that are confined in these settings as possible and start building communities capable of meeting everyone’s needs now. This is crucial from an anticolonial perspective, a Black liberation perspective, a racial justice perspective, and a public health perspective: it is vital towards meaningfully addressing anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, especially. Today, we are prepared to commit to building a society that chooses to meet people’s needs instead of locking them away, with a three-prong strategy: Defund/Dismantle/Build.


STOP investing more public or private money into policing and prison infrastructure
STOP increasing budgets to hire more police and prison officers
STOP building new police stations, detachments and headquarters, courthouses, jails, prisons, penitentiaries and immigration detention centres
COMMIT to dramatically cutting municipal, provincial and federal funding for carceral infrastructures


REDUCE the use of policing and prisons over time with the goal of ending punitive injustice within a generation
REMOVE police from all positions within essential social services including but not limited to: schools, mental health services and responses, family and youth support programming, and community support initiatives
REMOVE arms and other military equipment from police, RCMP, military, border control, and prison officers to diminish their ability to injure, maim and kill human beings
END the removal of Black and Indigenous children from their families into the state foster care system
END labour union affiliations with all police, prison guards, and border guards, recognizing that these positions go against the larger stated goals of protecting worker interests
END the detention and deportation of migrants and the criminalization of migration

Build Alternatives

INVEST funds diverted from police and prisons toward building safety for those most impacted by surveillance and policing: Black, Indigenous, unhoused, migrant, people who use [criminalized] drugs, and people living with disabilities. This includes investments in long-term free and affordable housing for all, access to free and healthy food, clean water, and community gardens for all, free public transit, harm-reduction supports for drug users, child care, free post-secondary education, and regularization of migrants/status for all
INVEST in attending to the root causes of harm in our society: gross racial, gender, sexual and economic inequality
INVEST in community-based anti-violence initiatives’ transformative justice capacity, and supports like non-carceral mental health care, community-based resources, and public safety approaches
INVEST in Care, Wellness and Healing, including non-coercive mental healthcare, wellness resources, non-coercive drug and alcohol treatment, peer support networks, community support counsellors and mediators, universal childcare, supports for family and kinship care, family support and youth programs that promote learning, safety, and community care,
INVEST in community centres, public libraries, recreational and cultural centres, schools, libraries, and other free public spaces.
ENACT the return of the land to Indigenous peoples (Land Back)
HONOUR existing treaties and Indigenous interpretations of treaties
HONOUR Indigenous sovereignty, including Indigenous governance and non-carceral Indigenous legal orders such as those outlined in the Unearthing Justices Resource Collection of 500+ Indigenous grassroots initiatives for the MMIWG2S+ , neighborhood-based trauma and healing centres
INVEST in land redevelopment for decommissioned police and prisons under the guidance of the Indigenous nations on whose land the buildings sit
CREATE a reparations model for survivors and families of people harmed by police, based on this Chicago model: repair, restoration, acknowledgment, cessation and non-repetition (

Authored by/Collaborators:

Anti-Carceral Group
Abolition Coalition
Anti-Poverty NL
Black Lives Matter- Toronto
Criminalization and Punishment Education Project
East Coast Prison Justice Society
Free Lands Free Peoples
Indigenous Joint/Joy Action Committee
Justice Exchange
Prisoner Correspondence Project
Saskatchewan-Manitoba-Alberta Abolition Coalition
Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project
Wellness Within

Remembering Mary-Jo Nadeau


On Saturday, January 9, 2021, the world lost an inspiring woman named Mary-Jo Nadeau.

Mary-Jo Nadeau (MJ) was an activist, professor, leader, mentor and comrade. 

She was also a former CUPE 1281 Staff Representative, who for many years worked tirelessly to defend the rights of workers, organize new workplaces, and educate and mentor everyone around her. She uplifted and inspired CUPE 1281 to grow as a local and we would not be where we are now, if it weren’t for MJ. Even after MJ stopped working at CUPE 1281 due to health concerns, she remained present in our local, and still provided us with guidance and support.

MJ was also well known as a fierce defender of human rights which included Palestine solidarity organizing and the BDS movement. In 2018, her passion was recognized by the CUPE 1281 membership with the creation of an annual award in her name, the Mary-Jo Nadeau Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Award. This is an award dedicated to an organization fighting to end support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and pressuring Israel to comply with international law.

MJ never shied away from speaking truth to power and holding bad bosses accountable. As unapologetic as she was in standing up to injustice, MJ was equally as committed to building meaningful and lasting relationships with our members. She radiated genuine warmth, humour, and laughter as she supported our confidence and capacity to collectively make our workplaces and communities better places. 

CUPE 1281 is collecting memorial statements from our members to post on our website to pay tribute to MJ. Please send all memorial statements to

As we continue to grieve the loss of MJ we will keep our membership updated with ways that members and the community can continue to celebrate her life and activism.

CUPE 1281 will miss and love you always MJ.

CUPE 1281 Office Holiday Closure

As the holidays are quickly approaching and the year of 2020 is finally coming to an end, the CUPE 1281 Executive Committee would like to announce that the CUPE 1281 Office will be closed for the holidays from December 14, 2020 until January 4, 2021. If during the holiday closure an emergency servicing issue arises and you need to be in contact with CUPE 1281, please contact the CUPE 1281 President, David Simao at

CUPE 1281 wishes everyone all of the best throughout the rest of 2020 and we’re looking forward to seeing all of you (hopefully in person) in 2021!

Request for Proposals: Anti-Oppression Consultancy/Equity Review


As a progressively minded organization, CUPE 1281 is seeking to improve its practices as an Employer and Union, and to promote equity for marginalized groups within our communities. We seek to ensure these principles are reflected throughout the Local’s policies, procedures, practices, relationships with staff, members, allies, and communities within which we work and live. We understand the importance of working towards ending the mistreatment, oppression, and violence often targeted at marginalized groups. 

CUPE 1281 understands that racism against BIPOC, and oppression more generally, are systemic within our societies and our structures and, therefore, within CUPE 1281. We must continually review and question our practices and work to change the way we confront discrimination and bias, whether conscious or unconscious. We must confront and dismantle racism and oppression within our internal structures and provide a safer work, and union, environment. 


CUPE 1281 is seeking a consultant to undertake a structural assessment of the local, with a focus toward barriers for equity-seeking individuals, and to provide recommendations in regards, but not limited, to: 

● the local’s current by-laws and related appendices; 

● the local’s governing, and participatory, structures more specifically; 

● the local’s policies and practices, as they currently exist, or may exist from time to time; 

● the local’s current approach to its work as an Employer. 

In addition to reviewing these items, we are looking for a consultant who will also undertake anonymous interviews with willing staff, executive officers, other elected members, and members at-large, to gather feedback based on their experiences within CUPE 1281 spaces. The consultant would also review email, text message and social media communication as deemed necessary. 


CUPE 1281 is currently able to immediately allocate $5,000 to this work in its current fiscal year, ending June 2021. In addition to its current fiscal year, CUPE 1281 intends to allocate additional funding in its next budget for consideration, and approval, by the membership. 

We acknowledge that the current budget allocation may hinder the extent to which this review may initially be undertaken and are committed to working with a consultant, and our members, to allocate additional funds within the current fiscal year. 

Our office is in Toronto, Ontario, but is currently closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, meetings would take place over Zoom or Google Meets. Should there be a need for travel and in-person meetings, this will be discussed and mutually agreed upon beforehand. Any in-person meetings must be fully compliant with public health guidelines and scientifically proven best practices. 


We welcome expressions of interest until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, December 11, 2020. We welcome any questions you may have prior to submitting an expression of interest. 

If you would be interested in undertaking this work, please provide an expression of interest that includes the following: 

● Background on your related experience 

● A description of your related area of expertise, methodologies, and approach(es) to the goals outlined; 

● An approximate costing of the work involved. 

CUPE 1281 would hope to receive a mid-term report with recommendations on interim measures that can be taken by May 1, 2021, with a final report timeline to be negotiated between the parties. 

Questions, queries, and expressions of interest may be sent to David Simao, President, at 

The Request for Proposals: Anti-Oppression Consultancy/Equity Review can also be found in PDF format here.

CUPE 1281 Rejects the Anti-Democratic Passing of the Order in Council (OIC) and Bill 168 that Silence Palestinians and Threaten, Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom

On Tuesday, October 27, 2020 the Ontario Government made the anti-democratic choice to bypass the committee consideration and public consultations on Bill 168, the Combatting Anti-Semitism Act and instead adopted the flawed IHRA definition of antisemitism through an Order in Council. Once again, the Ontario Government has abused their power and stifled democracy by abruptly disrupting the legislative process and adopting the definition without public consultation or the due legislative process as promised.

Bill 168 aims to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples into law. The flawed IHRA definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples conflate legitimate critiques of Israel and Zionism with antisemitism and therefore silence Palestinians and their allies, further normalize racism against Palestinians, and threaten freedom of speech and academic freedom. Antisemitism is real and deadly and its threat is increasing with the rise in white supremacy and the far right around the world. We join our allies in Independent Jewish Voices in rejecting the flawed and vague IHRA definition of antisemitism and its list of illustrative examples as unhelpful in combating antisemitism, and we stand with them in this important fight.

The Ontario Government panicked and passed Bill 168 abruptly because of the strong opposition they faced by the general public. The Palestinian Youth Movement and the Toronto BDS Network organized mass phone calls to the Standing Committee to block Bill 168 and Independent Jewish Voices Canada

organized a petition garnering thousands of signatures that targeted Members of Provincial Parliament to vote no against the bill. More than 100 Ontarians and organizations had also requested to attend the public hearings and present their views on the Bill. Bill 168 continues to have strong opposition from many academics, researchers, labour unions and community organizations, such as; CUPE Ontario, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Candian Federation of Students- Ontario, and more.

It’s crucial that Palestinians, academics, activists, labour unions and the general public, must have the right to criticize the State of Israel for continued human rights violations, land annexations and their illegal occupation of Palestinian territory; just like we have the right to criticize Canada and foreign states.

CUPE 1281 rejects Bill 168 and the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its list of illustrative examples and will continue to act in solidarity with the Palestinian community and fight all forms of biggotry, racism and discrimination, including Islamophobia and antisemitism. 


Restore Services at RSU Day of Action – Wednesday, October 21st

On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, CUPE 1281 will be hosting a digital Restore Services at RSU Day of Action. The Day of Action is a part of the escalating tactics CUPE 1281 has organized in response of 5 full-time unionized employees being laid off at the RSU.

Over the course of the Spring/Summer of 2020 the new RSU Executive Committee laid off the following workers: 

  • Campus Groups Coordinator
  • CopyRITE Printing Service Manager
  • Events Coordinator
  • Graphic Design Coordinator
  • Good Food Centre Coordinator

Take action with CUPE 1281 on Wednesday, October 21 and support essential workers who have lost their jobs.

Here are 3 ways for you and your organization to participate.

1. Post your support online! Take a solidarity selfie or post online our, I Support Student Services at Ryerson graphics on your social media and use the hashtag #RestoreRSU All graphics can be found here here.

2. Sign and share our petition that goes directly to the 5 RSU Executive Committee members demanding they Restore Services at RSU and recall their 5 full-time employees. Petition can be found here.

3. Sign and share CUPE Ontario’s e-action that goes directly to all RSU Board Members and urges them to mandate the RSU Executive Committee to reconsider their decision of cutting student services and laying off workers. E-action can be found here.

Please share the graphics, petition and e-action with your colleagues, friends and family. Together we can Restore Services at RSU and support workers being reinstated into their jobs. #RestoreRSU


Open Letter to the RSU from the Ryerson Campus Coalition to re-open the Good Food Centre

Dear Ryerson Students’ Union,

We, the below signatories from the Campus Coalition, are sending this letter to request that the Ryerson Students’ Union consider opening the Good Food Centre for the 2020-21 academic year. We ask this with the understanding of the current climate of COVID-19, limited campus activity and the current labour disputes between the Ryerson Students’ Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees 1281. Several students have reached out to our organizations regarding concerns about the current closure. Some of our organizations have made our positions known regarding the labour dispute, but the purpose of this letter is to focus specifically on the necessity of the Good Food Centre in building a campus that values food security, poverty reduction and anti-stigma for students and workers accessing food banks on post-secondary campuses.

We understand that there is a desire to reduce operations during the reduction in campus spaces but we implore the Ryerson Students’ Union to consider creative and safe approaches to maintaining operations for the food bank as several other post-secondary students’ unions have implemented, such as pre-booked appointments, curbside pick-up or deliveries. For instance, the York Federation of Students is currently providing food hampers on specific days ( We also implore the Ryerson Students’ Union to maintain the Good Food Centre Coordinator to ensure health and safety protocols and procedures. The RSU collects a semesterly fee for the Good Food Centre, in the same way that fees for the Centre for Safer Sex and Sexual Violence Support are collected, explicitly for the reason to provide these services with a full-time and part-time staff component that focuses on providing food relief services to students. COVID-19 means our members need us more than ever before, particularly members facing food insecurity.

All of our organizations recognize and respect the autonomy of the Ryerson Students’ Union to determine their own operations – which is why many of us supported the campaign to Rebuild the RSU. We ask that you take these considerations to heart and consider the re-opening of the Good Food Centre for the Fall and Winter terms.

Thank you for your time and we are happy to discuss further.

Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3904

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1281

Ryerson Faculty Association

TAKE ACTION: Sign the Restore Services at RSU Petition

On Sunday, September 13, 2020 CUPE 1281 released a petition
calling on the Ryerson Students’ Union Executive Committee to restore their services and reinstate their employees now!

During the tenure of the new RSU Executive Committee 5
full-time unionized employees have received layoff notice. This includes; the Campus Groups Coordinator, CopyRITE Printing Service Manager, Events Coordinator, Graphic Design
Coordinator and Good Food Centre Coordinator.

CUPE 1281 is fighting back against these layoffs and has organized an online petition that you can sign here. Please sign and share the petition widely to let the RSU know that you stand in solidarity with workers and that you are against these layoffs.

#RestoreRSU #ServicesNotCuts

Open Letter to the RSU: Reinstate your employees now!

Tuesday July 7, 2020

Since the turnover of the Ryerson Students’ Union Executive Committee on May 1st, 2020, five full time employees who are members of CUPE 1281 have received layoff notices. The complement of full time unionized employees at this students’ union should be ten, but with two vacancies yet to be filled they are now reduced to only three. This is gutting the bargaining unit at this workplace. Two of the recently laid off members were offered to continue doing their jobs, but part-time and outside of the bargaining unit. This is union busting.

Laid off positions:

  • Campus Groups Coordinator
  • CopyRITE Printing Service Manager
  • Events Coordinator
  • Good Food Centre Coordinator
  • Graphic Designer Coordinator

    Across the university sector and with students’ unions specifically there have not been mass layoffs like this, even with the COVID-19 pandemic. The RSU has an obligation as a students’ union to adapt and continue to provide students with services and programming.

    The rationale for the layoffs was lack of work, but do students not need access to the Good Food Centre (food bank) which they pay a dedicated levy for? Is the RSU not planning on engaging students by running online events, programming, or seeking sponsorship? Will campus groups not need the normal support they receive or training on RSU procedures and good governance? Is there really a great reduction in graphics or design work to be done? Will students not need access to CopyRITE, the print shop run by the RSU or will they be ending all operations? We worry that students at Ryerson were not consulted about these drastic cuts to their services and will wonder what they are paying for. It seems that all ideas to offer alternatives to in person service or run online events were not even considered by RSU Management.

    For months now governments and economists have been cautioning against layoffs and encouraging employers to utilize wage subsidies to keep employees working as normal. This is a time where the economy should be strengthened by continuing full time employment wherever possible and yet the RSU makes this move to “restructure.” In an email to the RSU Board of Directors on June 22nd Ali Yousaf, RSU President, claims they are concerned about the RSU’s financial standing with a reduced enrollment forecast for the upcoming academic year. Remember this is after the RSU fees for the past year, which were not released by Ryerson University are now set to flow freely to the RSU because a new operating agreement with the university has been signed. The prediction that enrollment will drop in a substantial way this upcoming year is likely to be false as Ryerson saw an increase in enrollment for online courses for the Spring/Summer 2020 term. Jobs are scarce, travel is restricted, what else are people to do besides go to school and try to gain an edge with their qualifications and improve their skill sets.

    CUPE 1281 sees these layoffs as very problematic as we recently supported the RSU in their legal battle against Ryerson University, which the RSU won. Now seeing the RSU cut full-time unionized positions is beyond frustrating. Will the President of the RSU hire his friends to do these jobs? We don’t know but we urge full time students at Ryerson to monitor this situation closely. CUPE 1281 is demanding the RSU to recall our members to maintain the important services and programming they run to support students.

    RSU we are calling on you to reinstate your employees now!


    Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1281

  • COVID-19 Community Resources

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic, communities across Ontario have come together in solidarity to support one another through resource sharing. If you know any additional groups to add to our list please contact us at



    Durham Region












    Niagara Region









    CareMongering Peel






    The People’s Pantry


    CareMongering Windsor

    York Region

    CareMongering York Region