I recently had the opportunity to attend the CUPE Alberta convention as the 2nd VP of HEU, and it was an incredible experience. There were many highlights, but the one that stood out the most was the game of musical chairs organized by CUPE Alberta. It was heartwarming to see the final two competitors sit down in the chair with their arms around each other, declaring that they would share the prize. It speaks to the quality of the people there.
However, it was impossible to ignore the dire situation in Alberta. Every speaker who came to the microphone spoke about exhaustion, poverty, and the challenges of working at jobs like Educational Assistants that demand unpaid overtime, leaving them unable to pick up a second job. The result is that they live on poverty wages capped at $27,000 per year. It was heartbreaking to hear about their struggles, and it made me appreciate the protections and benefits that our union has secured for our members.
Despite the difficulties faced by workers in Alberta, the convention highlighted important issues that need to be addressed, such as protections for pensions, support for childcare initiatives, and the importance of using accurate language when discussing issues affecting Indigenous peoples. The speakers at the event, including Mark Hancock, Candace Rennick, Siobán Vipond, and Lindsay Poll, brought brilliant words of solidarity and truth.
When I was invited to speak on behalf of HEU, I spoke with pride about the achievements we have seen under the NDP, including the repatriation of our contracted-out workers, wage levelling, and the raises in our master collective agreement. Afterward, a woman sitting next to me said, “I’ll confess I’m jealous of you living under the NDP.” It was a reminder that we must continue to fight for the rights and well-being of workers across Canada.
In conclusion, CUPE Alberta’s convention was a highly successful event thanks to the hard work and dedication of the organizers and attendees. It served as a reminder of the importance of unions in fighting for fair wages, better working conditions, and a more just society. I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended and for the warm welcome I received from everyone at the convention.
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