Reports from 2023 CUPE BC Convention

Our CUPE 2950 delegates pose on the Convention stage for a photo by Joshua Berson. Top row; Kevin Veltheer, Caitlin Mayne, Chloe Martin-Cabanne, Karen Ranalletta (President of CUPE BC), Brandon Nakasato; Bottom row: Shehnaz Motani, Hema Ratnasami and Genna Tutland.

Chloe Martin-Cabanne

The CUPE BC Convention took place at the Victoria Conference Centre from April 26-29, 2023. We had six delegates attend from CUPE 2950, and you can read more about their experiences below. Our very own Karen Ranalletta was re-elected President of CUPE BC, and I am very excited to work with her on the CUPE BC Executive Board as Alternate Regional Vice President for the Metro Region.

My favourite part of Convention is voting on and speaking to resolutions. During these blocks, we have issues presented to us, and then we learn about the experiences and challenges that CUPE members face in the workplace from speakers at the pro and con mics. We cannot get through all of the resolutions during Convention, which means that some of the issues submitted never make it to the floor for debate. A number of resolutions were passed, and some of the highlights I’m excited to work on with the CUPE BC Executive Board include:

  • Lobbying the provincial government for pay equity legislation for women’s work
  • Creating a Job Evaluation reclassification training program for stewards
  • Working on a Transportation campaign calling on the government to increase funding for BC’s transit system
  • A mentorship toolkit for equity-seeking members to join Executive Boards and Committees in their locals and beyond

A call went out at the beginning of Convention asking for more volunteers on the Sergeant at Arms committee, so of course I stepped up and joined. This involved checking delegate badges and “tiling the doors” (not letting anyone into the hall) during elections. I met many new delegates this way and would recommend the experience to our members in the future.

Thanks to our delegates for their participation in this Convention – it was a good one!

Shehnaz Motani

This year’s CUPE BC convention was attended by over 500 delegates.  It was a chance to connect with CUPE activist friends, new and old, both working and retired, some of whom have made the transition to provincial and municipal governments.  It was a chance to make new friends, to hear and debate issues and concerns of CUPE members across the Province and across sectors (Primary/secondary education, Universities, libraries, municipal, health care, transportation, and more.)

We heard of possible solutions which might address the issues faced by our members.   CUPE workers often share common concerns across the Province, whether it’s about affordable housing, affordable and adequate childcare, environmentally clean and affordable public transportation, a health care system in need of improvements, wages that are not keeping up with inflation and the cost of living, the proper funding and staffing of libraries, human rights issues and health and safety issues, Reconciliation with First Nations, and more.

We also heard about how CUPE BC has been lobbying and working with the provincial government on all of these issues, providing workable solutions, and how we have a partner that we can work with in the NDP government.  We also heard about the strength and power of unions when they work in unison, whether within the Province or nationally, as was seen by the Ford government being forced by a united labour movement to back down on regressive legislation affecting Education/Teaching staff workers in Ontario.

We heard about CUPE 561 transportation workers in the Fraser Valley who have been on a long strike and are dealing with an intransigent and unreasonable employer based in the USA.

The convention saw a televised address from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, an in-person address by BC Premier David Eby, CUPE National (and formerly CUPE BC) president Mark Hancock and Secretary Treasurer Candace Rennick,  CLC National President Beah Bruske, BC Federation of Labour President Sussanne Skidmore and Secretary Treasurer Hermender Singh Kailley, and HEU president Barb Nederpel.  The latter chaired this year’s election of the new CUPE BC Executive Board.

Delegates attended a solemn ceremony on the grounds of the BC Legislature to honour workers killed at their workplaces. 

I also attended the Workers of Colour caucus meeting to hear and debate issues from the perspective of Workers of Colour and to elect a Diversity Vice President (WoC).  Note that there are similar caucuses for all diversity groups (Workers with Disabilities, First Nations Workers, 2SLGBTQI Workers) who vote for a dedicated Diversity Vice President and strategize on caucus specific issues.

CUPE local 2950’s former President, Karen Ranalletta, was acclaimed as CUPE BC President for an additional two year term as was Secretary Treasurer Trevor Davis. Current CUPE 2950 President Chloe Cabane was elected by the CUPE Metro caucus to be an Alternate General Vice President representing CUPE Metro at the Provincial Executive level.  Congratulations to both of them.  A list of all members of the new CUPE BC executive board can be found at

Coming back to CUPE at UBC, we heard from CUPE 2278 about their successful organizing drive which saw graduate research assistants vote with a 55% majority in favour of joining CUPE 2278.  The results are now at the Labour Board for approval.  Congratulations to CUPE 2278 and all graduate research assistants.

Most importantly, we debated and voted on 48 resolutions over 4 days, providing future directions for the next couple of years to the CUPE BC executive.

And finally, as a long time CUPE ombudsperson, I got to serve in that capacity within an ombudsperson team at this convention.

Thank you to the local and to all our members for sending me as a delegate to this Convention.  It is a great way to get involved in our Union and learn about our movement.  I encourage all members to give it a try.

In solidarity, Shehnaz Motani

Genna Tutland

The 2023 CUPE BC Convention was the first convention I have been to. I was recently hired at UBC in January and my goal in coming to this convention was to learn more about what it means to be a member of CUPE, what my rights are, and what CUPE does for its workers. Of course, I learned all that and so much more. As a delegate, I got to hear the many issues that other CUPE members face not only in BC but in Canada, and it was incredible to know how much CUPE stands behind it’s workers when they need support. Listening to the many speakers, it showed me how diverse the Union is, and gave me a chance to understand better the issues that different workers face in their field. Many people had very emotional and personal stories to share, which underlined the importance of the motions that were passed. After the conference meetings, I also got to socialize with individual members from different locals and get to know everyone, their stories, and the hardships that they go through in their jobs. This conference made me really appreciate the work that CUPE does for its members and I am so proud to be part of this Union that is so progressive and works to continually improve and match the needs of its members.

Kevin Veltheer

I volunteered to attend the CUPE BC Conference because I became interested after attending recent meetings and paying attention to the Collective Bargaining process. While I was a bit anxious about attending, not sure what I had signed up for, it was an exciting experience, seeing how things work and meeting new and interesting people.

Hearing the resolutions, and the impacts they had on individuals were eye-opening, and oftentimes hard, to hear people tell, often heartbreaking stories, letting their raw emotions be expressed in support of various items. And while most resolutions passed without issues, it was shocking to see some conflict arising in the discussions, while some argue that this is Canada and we are different from our neighbours to the south, we can still feel some of the negative influences – hearing some of talking points and seeing the pushback on some of the resolutions. At times it felt like the conferences was a bastion of inclusion, it was very easy to forget that people of all political leanings are members, which is why it was shocking to hear some strong conservative sentiments espoused. In contrast, it was great to hear the number of voices raised in protest or support.

That being said, the conference wasn’t just about resolutions there were many talks, receptions and lunches. I got to meet some interesting people and hear about their experiences in different locals. Chatted with Stephen Drost (CUPW NB President) and heard about his experience negotiating in New Brunswick. Then was able to see our very own, Chloe Martin-Cabanne, throw her name in the running for Alternate Regional VP, and be elected. It is very easy to forget you a part of a Union, but when you do, you miss out on all the good things you can experience by being involved.

Caitlin Mayne

I am so grateful to have been able to attend this convention. For me, the most valuable part of labour conventions is the opportunity to hear from workers in other sectors in our province and their struggles. In particular, learning more about CUPE 561’s strike was eye opening – Fraser Valley transit is contracted out to a US-based company which is part of an international conglomerate headquartered in France. I was also able to hear from a huge number of educational assistants about the increasing violence they are facing in the classroom and from striking PSAC workers. Hearing directly from workers gives context to what we are hearing in the news. It was also wonderful to get to know some members of our local! A big thank you to Leslie for organizing our travel and to Chloe for being such a resource at what can be an intimidating event.

Brandon Nakasato

My parents worked in unionized factories for three decades each so my first experience with unions came from my observations of them as a kid. This was my first time attending a Canadian union convention. But I have served as a local union chapter board officer and delegate to four state/provincial-level and two international-level union conventions in the US as a member of Alaska State Employees Association Local 52 affiliated with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

  • Between the dates of 26-29 April 2023, 400-500 union delegates convened as the highest governing body for the British Columbia Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE BC). These delegates represented a grassroots membership numbering approximately 100,000 workers.
  • Our union will have a 2023 budget of $3.6 million and the CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer reported a 2022 budget surplus of $182,231. According to statistics provided to the Convention the trend-line of the past five years has been one of growing financial stability as indicated by last year’s surplus.
  • There were elections for all members of the union’s executive board. Congratulations are due to CUPE 2950 President, Chloe Martin-Cabanne, who was elected as an Alternative Regional Vice President for Metro Vancouver.
  • 48 resolutions were reviewed over three days of official business. 46/48 were approved. 1/48 was rejected. 1/48 was sent back by the convention to the referring committee. (This had the administrative effect of rejecting the resolution.) Approximately 40 resolutions were abandoned due to insufficient time.
  • Throughout the entire convention there was a consistent effort to raise up the voice of Indigenous issues and people. Morning cleansing sessions, land acknowledgments, and assembly speakers ensured that their voices were heard, considered, and integrated into deliberations.
  • Attended diversity meetings and caucuses for the Racialized Workers and the Pink Triangle (LGBTQ) along with the regional caucus for Metro Vancouver. I am planning to submit applications to several committees once they are distributed in May or June 2023.


  • Abandoning nearly four dozen resolutions submitted by various locals, district councils, and committees can’t be considered acceptable.

There needs to be better debate and floor management which de-emphasizes “preaching to the choir” when there is clear agreement by the body on a resolution.

  • Debate limits on each resolution and shorter individual speaking times.
  • Renewing the practice of sending unaddressed resolutions to the Executive Committee.
  • The use of consent agendas for combined consideration of non-controversial resolutions.
  • There were some resolutions which seemed more focused on addressing elements of culture wars rather than straightforward and practical concerns of the union grassroots.
  • The needs of convention business should take precedence over the schedules of guest speakers no matter their position or title.
  • There should be a specific orientation session (or other resources if this is too burdensome) for first-time convention-goers.

Hema Ratnasami

This was my second time attending the CUPE BC Convention, I found the environment a lot different this time around. A lot of the resolutions brought forward were pretty straight-forward and did not have much opposition. However, it was always tense when there was opposition to resolutions involving marginalized folks. There were some harmful statements made and a few significant resolutions that were not passed. It is important to note that the demographic of the delegates is not necessarily representative of the membership which impacts whose voices are being amplified over others. There needs to be a lot more done in terms of cultural safety at the convention. As it was an election year for the CUPE BC Executive Board & Leadership, this was a big part of the convention proceedings. Personally, there was not much that I found would be useful to myself or our local this time around. For folks wanting to attend conventions in the future, it is good opportunity to hear what is happening across unions in BC although there is a lot of emotional labour involved in participating. It was great having the chance to chat with the other delegates from CUPE 2950 and also those from CUPE 2278.