HEU’s place in CUPE overwhelmingly supported by national convention delegates

More than 2,100 delegates representing CUPE locals from across the country overwhelmingly rejected a bid to exclude HEU when the union’s national convention got underway in Vancouver on Monday.

It brought to a close a tense week in which some forces in CUPE resorted to the Supreme Court of B.C. to seek an injunction to prevent HEU from participating in the deliberations of its national union. At stake was the delegate entitlement provisions in HEU’s seven-year old merger agreement that brought HEU back into the CUPE fold in 1994, which became an issue because of a hotly contested election to replace CUPE’s retiring secretary-treasurer.

But the courts rejected that bid out of hand Monday morning, and soon after delegates themselves sent a clear message when the same political forces sought to wage a floor fight to block HEU from the convention.

Two days later, progressive Quebec activist Claude Généreux was elected as CUPE’s new secretary-treasurer, winning by more than 500 votes. Généreux had been a strong HEU backer in the divisive struggle leading up to the convention. He’ll work with another HEU supporter, CUPE president Judy Darcy who was re-elected for another two-year term.

“It’s been an extremely positive outcome for us,” says HEU president and CUPE national executive member Fred Muzin. “Clearly, HEU’s place in our national union is now stronger and more secure than before.”

“Rank and file CUPE delegates have spoken, and they’ve rejected the politics of division. Like HEU members,” says Muzin, “they want our national union focussed on providing leadership so that public sector workers can challenge the attacks on our jobs and the important services we provide for Canadians.”

And delegates did just that, rolling up their sleeves to passionately debate a number of issues like the Abbotsford private hospital scheme, threatened efforts by the Campbell government to roll back the collective agreement for 13,000 community social services workers in B.C., the so-called war on terrorism in Afghanistan, and the struggles of 1,500 flight attendants and CUPE members who lost their jobs whe-n the Canada 3000 airline went bankrupt earlier this month.