When I accepted the nomination for the President position one year ago, it was on the condition that our Local embrace a mass organizing strategy and support the implementation of that strategy. One year on, the results speak for themselves. After being a rarity in previous years, over 150 worklfoor meetings have now been held throughout our Local in the last 12 months. This persistent outreach directly led to a record number of Local educationals where 22 new shop stewards were trained and 267 members learned organizing methods in ‘Taking Back Our Workfloor’. Our ability to quickly share information with our members continues to improve as we’ve more than doubled both our Facebook followers (500+) and listserve subscribers (1850+). Now, with our re-launched website (www.cupw730.ca) and twitter account (@cupw730), our members have even more resources to stay informed and get involved.
As helpful as this strong foundation of access and transparency is, it would be squandered if it didn’t tangibly help strengthen our Local both internally and externally. Internally, our average annual GMM attendance is up, more of our committees are more active, and we’ve made countless reforms to our local bylaws to enshrine better accountability and representation. Our newsletter also continues to provide valuable and ever improving quality content and analysis. Of greatest impact, many of our workfloors are able to organize themselves to pressure CPC into improving conditions. Notably, it was because of our more organized workfloors that our entire Local benefitted from one of the fastest and most comprehensive responses to the pandemic.
Externally, we’re establishing a whole new generation of activists. Out of our 34 possible delegate spots, we have 19 new delegates; 11 of which are now sisters, up from the shameful total of 2 elected before. This means there will be new voices at Regional conference and National convention encouraging our whole union to embrace a workfloor empowerment and mobilization program to fight bad contract arbitrations and back-to-work legislation.
Most importantly, our workfloor job actions and leadership have created opportunities for our activists to be invited to other locals to share the ‘Taking Back Our Workfloor’ course and expand our organizing network capacity throughout Canada. Our training schedule was sidetracked by the pandemic but we’re already coordinating new tentative dates for August and September. This project, more than anything else we do, is the culmination of what true unionism should look like: leading by example on our own workfloors, sharing those lessons and supporting members anywhere with their own training and organizing efforts, then consolidating together to fight CPC on the grounds of our choosing.
Although it can be argued that our Local is better positioned to fightback than it's been in recent memory, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to continue to win over more of our members to the realisation that nothing will improve if we don’t take matters into our own hands and collectively fightback from our workfloors. Organizing doesn’t succeed by only preaching to the choir that already understands CPC’s true nature, organizing succeeds through sheer numbers and unity in action. If we are to build on the work we’ve already done, we must continue to push our Local to grow. The motion we’ll debate today to create a Communications officer position is an attempt to put more resources into direct workfloor and social media outreach and coordination. The stakes are very simple: if we want more, we have to do more (Update: the motion overwhelmingly passed).
The year ahead will provide many challenges. After rejecting every one of our proposals throughout negotiation, our contract arbitration will not likely meaningfully address our demands. As soon as that resolves, it will not be long before we start developing demands for our next round of negotiations. The reality of this process is that our union only has as much leverage as our membership is organized to create pressure on our workfloors. Our Local’s already been preparing our membership for the past year through constant communication, education and our city-wide defiance referendum, but we need to redouble our efforts and keep inspiring other locals to organize alongside us. To successfully gain ground and fight forward, we will need even more direct workfloor engagement for our members and more training for our workfloor activists. The spirit of solidarity is strengthening in our Local; let’s all keep supporting the efforts of our leadership and activists to empower our membership.
The struggle continues.
President, CUPW 730