VICTORIA – CUPE BC convention delegates are heading home with renewed commitments to fight for members and the crucial public services they provide, and to make the province’s workplaces safer.
The importance of public transit to B.C. communities was also a key theme throughout the four-day convention, particularly in light of over 200 striking CUPE 561 transit workers in the Fraser Valley.
“We have never shied away from a difficult fight. We are ready to continue this long-haul struggle,” said CUPE BC President Ranalletta, in her opening address. “Our message is clear: The busses of the Fraser Valley will not roll until these workers get wage justice, and retirement security. Full stop.”
Ranalletta was just the first of many speakers to rally convention delegates in support of these CUPE members fighting for wages in line with other transit workers and a pension from First Transit, the multinational corporation contracted to provide transit services in Fraser Valley communities.
Secretary-Treasurer Trevor Davies assured delegates with his report to convention that CUPE BC has the resources to back up CUPE 561 and all CUPE members in the province.
“Our strength is not found in any bank account, it’s with our members. So, my plan as Secretary-Treasurer is always for our financial strength to match and support the strength of our members,” said Davies.
CUPE’s National President Mark Hancock and Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick pledged national support for CUPE 561.
“I don’t really care how wealthy you are, because in CUPE, we don’t let anyone walk over our members! And we won’t let these multinationals disrespect and shortchange workers,” said Hancock in his address to delegates. “To our 561 members walking the line, I say: one day longer, one day stronger!”
Hancock was one of several national and B.C. labour leaders attended convention and participated in the Workers’ Day of Mourning rally hosted by CUPE BC.
BCFED President Sussanne Skidmore and Secretary-Treasurer Hermender Singh Kailley and CLC President Bea Bruske also brought greetings to delegates, as did HEU President Barb Nederpel, who also proceeded over convention elections. CUPE New Brunswick President Stephen Drost joined other labour organizers for the Organizing to Win! forum.
Many of these guest speakers spoke about the challenges the rising costs-of-living and inflation are posing to workers, their families, and communities. That included B.C. Premier David Eby, who addressed the CUPE BC Convention for the first time as Premier and leader of the BC NDP.
“Workers are facing big challenges…. There are people out there that believe we should be addressing these challenges with cuts and more privatization of public services,” said Eby, sharing what he’s heard from other premiers. “The labour movement and this government doesn’t believe in this race to the bottom. Workers don’t deserve this.”
CUPE BC President Karen Ranalletta wrapped up with a thank-you to delegates for their thoughtful and respectful debate, hard work, and energy that helped make it a successful convention.
Over the four-days, delegates passed 48 resolutions setting the direction ahead for CUPE BC. “I am very excited for the next couple of years,” said Ranalletta, adjourning convention for another year.
Convention 2023 was an election year for CUPE BC. Karen Ranalletta was acclaimed to a second term as President. Trevor Davies was also acclaimed to another term as Secretary-Treasurer, a position he’s held since 2015.
Members elected to the CUPE BC Executive Board for a two-year term include:
Diversity Vice-Presidents & Alternates
Taily Willis – Alternate
Persons with Disabilities
Monica Brady – Alternate
Hailey Fielden – Alternate
Cindy Ozouf – Alternate
Ryan Doman – Alternate
Michelle Bennett – Alternate
Chloe Martin-Cabanne – Alternate
Jeanette Beauvillier – Alternate
Lois Rugg – Alternate
Tiffany McLaughlin – Alternate
Debbie Mohabir was acclaimed as a Trustee