CUPE demands a budget that works for working people

This week, Scott Moe’s Sask. Party government will unveil their last provincial
budget before the general election and CUPE is calling for a budget that is focused on
Saskatchewan workers.

“This budget needs a plan to create good jobs, bigger paycheques, to protect public
services, fix the health care crisis and clean up the mess in education,” said Kent
Peterson, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Failing to do so sends a clear message –
Scott Moe doesn’t care about workers and needs to be fired.”

The 31,000 members of CUPE Saskatchewan who deliver public services in the health
care, education, and municipal sectors often bear the consequences of Scott Moe’s cuts and privatization. Years of underfunding education, mismanaging our health care
system and cost-downloading to other levels of government have worsened working
conditions for CUPE members and weakened public services Saskatchewan people
rely on.

“Our members are the backbone of our province and deserve a budget that invests in
them and the public services they deliver, added Peterson. “Workers are ready to
mobilize for change in the upcoming school board, municipal, and provincial elections.
They are done settling for less.”

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Omar Murray recognized with award for union activism

With over 30 years of activism, Omar Murray was recognized with the CUPE Saskatchewan Award for Union Activism on the closing day of convention in Saskatoon.

Omar Murray began his union activism when he organized the Maple Creek bus drivers and became the founding president of CUPE Local 4754; a leadership role he continues today. CUPE Local 4754 represents educational support staff, including school-based support, facility maintenance, bus drivers, and technological information staff at the Chinook School Division. Omar has also been instrumental in organizing several other locals of education support workers in the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan.

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Breakfast and a Show; National officers deliver stirring wake up call on the last day of convention

CUPE national president Mark Hancock poses with prize winners Connie Doge of CUPE 1975 & Heather Richinski, the Executive assistant serving local 1975.

The national president Mark Hancock and national secretary treasurer Candace Rennick took the stage on the last morning of the CUPE Saskatchewan convention to celebrate the good work delegates accomplished, and to set the tone for the union’s next steps. Among the jovial atmosphere and prizes, their message to the gathered activists was clear – if we want to protect our rights as union activists, we must get political.

Both Candace and Mark stressed the dangers of conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, who is making in-roads with working people with his misleading rhetoric about issues which speak to us. Poilievre tries to appeal to working people by talking about “parent’s rights,” which he uses as a code to hide his bigoted attacks on human rights. “Our rights weren’t given to us, we had to fight for them, and they can be taken away with the swipe of a pen.,” said Rennick. “If Pierre Poilievre cared about mothers’ rights, he wouldn’t have voted against child care.”

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NDP Leader Carla Beck earns delegate support at CUPE Saskatchewan convention

Today, Opposition Leader Carla Beck brought a keynote address to the CUPE Saskatchewan convention where delegates voted to formally endorse her and the Saskatchewan NDP in the next election and make her the first woman Premier in Saskatchewan’s history.

“Carla Beck brought energy to our convention and a welcome commitment to fight for Saskatchewan public services,” said Kent Peterson, elected president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “People are tired of Scott Moe cutting and selling off the public services they rely on.”

At CUPE Saskatchewan’s 2024 convention, members passed a resolution to support Carla Beck and the Saskatchewan NDP in the coming election and a motion to “reaffirm its affiliation to the Saskatchewan NDP” for the coming fiscal year.

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Building Worker Power; CUPE Saskatchewan hears from panellists

The delegates gathered in Saskatoon for CUPE Saskatchewan’s convention heard about the importance of political action for union members from three of CUPE’s best. Nathaniel Teed, a CUPE member now serving as NDP MLA, Cara Stelmaschuk, the recording secretary from CUPE 882, and Gina McKay, the President of CUPE Manitoba, shared their experiences and took questions from the floor.

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“Vote – and vote for change” – Candace Rennick reports at the CUPE Saskatchewan Convention

National Secretary Treasurer Candace Renick gave her report to delegates in Saskatoon today. She delivered the good news that CUPE was growing, hiring more staff to support our growing membership base both at work, and in their communities. New permanent staff are being hired across the country, including here in Saskatchewan, to help advance the strategic directions outlined by members at the national convention in Quebec 2023.

Rennick then turned to politics, reminding delegates that the austerity of Scott Moe, and other Conservative politicians, always hurts workers. She stressed the importance of working together, challenging conservative rhetoric, and get organize to fight the right.

“This isn’t time for us to duck and hope for the best; this is the time to bolster the courage of our members, to raise expectations, to help members fight back, and to organize them for action.”

She reaffirmed the national union’s commitment to support CUPE Saskatchewan members as they organize to take their province back.

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Fresh ideas and vigor: CUPE young workers network in Saskatoon

A group of young workers met this morning at the CUPE Saskatchewan Convention to talk about activism, solidarity, and their experience as young CUPE members. Two of these workers were Emily Hitchings and Wesley Griffith. Emily is following in a strong family tradition of activism within CUPE as an education worker. Wesley is working in the healthcare sector, having served as a shop steward and is looking to get more involved with his local.

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“I will fight like hell for Saskatchewan workers”: Kent Peterson elected new president of province’s largest union

Today, members of Saskatchewan’s largest union – CUPE Saskatchewan – elected Kent Peterson as their new president.

“I want to thank my fellow CUPE members for their support. They know I will fight like hell for Saskatchewan workers,” said Kent Peterson, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Scott Moe has been cutting and selling-off public services for years. That’s why medical wait times are out of control. It is why kids don’t have enough EAs in school. It is why wages aren’t keeping up. The workers I represent have had enough.”

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“It can be done:” CLC Executive Vice President addresses CUPE Saskatchewan Delegates

Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau warmed up the convention crowd at the CUPE Saskatchewan 2024 convention with the singing of the familiar union anthem, “Solidarity Forever!”. Rousseau’s greetings to delegates in Saskatchewan from the labour movement’s national body uniting all of Canada’s unions: with solidarity, we can build a better and fairer future. It can be done.

“Organizing,” said Rousseau, “is more than just signing union cards. It’s political action, solidarity, and community building. Decision makers should be looking out for the most vulnerable, but conservative governments try to distract and divide us instead. We know that if we work together; we can guarantee a better future. We need everybody. It can be done,” said Rousseau.

Rousseau highlighted that Saskatchewan, and all of Canada are facing many crises; from the affordability crisis, crisis in healthcare, housing, and more. All these crises can be dealt with if unions work together. His message was clear: “Moe has got to go!”

Larry reminded delegates that when conservatives governments want to shut down human rights commissions, they are coming after workers too. Corporations want conservative governments because they want to cut wages and get rid of unions. In this moment, with so many crises coming to a head, and elections coming up it is critical that we organize.

From Scott Moe to Pierre Poilievre, conservatives are looking to dismantle union power and workers rights. They cut spending on public services, cutting public sector jobs in the process, leaving workers out in the cold.

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