Nov 29, 2010

CUPE BC to maintain BC Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress membership

CLC dispute with NUPGE results in CUPE BC decision to hold 3-day CUPE Caucus

VANCOUVER—Rather than participate in the BC Federation of Labour 2010 Convention, CUPE BC will hold a 3-day caucus meeting in Vancouver, CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill said today.

O’Neill issued the following statement today:

“It is with great regret that I must announce that as a result of the decision of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) to disaffiliate from the Canadian Labour Congress, the CUPE BC Caucus has made the difficult decision that CUPE BC delegates will not participate in the 2010 BC Federation of Labour Convention.

“I want to be perfectly clear: CUPE BC is NOT disaffiliating from either the BC Federation of Labour or the Canadian Labour Congress. We are strong and loyal supporters of both organizations, and have no intention of leaving either body. We have taken this decision to protect the integrity, unity and solidarity of the labour movement in British Columbia and Canada. And we sincerely appreciate the efforts of the Congress and most affiliates to resolve this issue in an acceptable manner.

“But the outcome of these efforts is unacceptable to CUPE BC. There must be a single, uniform standard for resolving disputes, and such disputes can’t be settled in this fashion. Simply put, if an affiliate of the Congress gives notice of its intention to disaffiliate, consequences of that decision must flow as per the Constitution. In this case, NUPGE announced its decision to immediately disaffiliate on November 25. Under the CLC’s constitution, the consequences of such a decision include the inability of NUPGE affiliates to participate in provincial federations of labour, or labour councils.

“CUPE has the greatest of respect for NUPGE’s affiliates in British Columbia—the BCGEU, the Health Sciences Association, the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union and other affiliates—and we work with them on a daily basis to represent workers in a wide variety of sectors across the province. And we intend to continue working with them in that regard.

“But, the position of CUPE BC is that one of two things must happen to prevent this difficult outcome: either the CLC constitution is upheld and NUPGE affiliates are not seated at Convention, or NUPGE can withdraw or amend its decision to disaffiliate effective November 25.

“Again, let me be perfectly clear: CUPE BC is extremely disappointed by this turn of events. We believe very strongly that a united House of Labour is essential to the future of Canada and all provinces, and it is with tremendous sadness that we take this step.

“That said, it is our belief that the CLC must abide by its constitution, and its members in good standing cannot be put in a position of not knowing the consequences of actions that contravene the constitution. CUPE BC’s position is clear. As a result of NUPGE’s refusal to withdraw or amend its letter of disaffiliation from the Congress, its member unions should not be permitted to participate in this Convention.

“CUPE BC delegates will instead debate issues of concern to the labour movement—and all British Columbians—at an alternative conference, to be held concurrent to the Federation’s Convention.

“And finally, as I have stated previously, if NUPGE reconsiders its decision, we will participate fully as a proud member of the Congress and the Federation.”

COPE 491