Reports from 2024 CUPE BC Convention

April 24-27, 2024 at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, BC

Chloe Martin-Cabanne, President

It was wonderful to attend the CUPE BC Convention at the Westin Bayshore. We had a dynamic group of CUPE 2950 delegates, full of questions and enthusiasm for the resolutions and speakers we heard throughout our busy days.

This was my first Convention as an elected CUPE BC Executive Board member, and my focus was on passing the resolutions that our Environment & Climate Justice Committee put forward for debate by the delegates. I’m happy to report that we passed a resolution for CUPE National to implement a Climate Emergency Action Plan to specify goals, strategies, and timelines to reduce the carbon footprint of our union activities, as well as provide guidance to locals and district councils on how we can do more to recognize the climate emergency. Our delegates participated in a Convention Reimagined forum, where we heard from folks about more environmental ways to conduct the business of Convention. Our ECJC passed a resolution to lobby the BC government to expand the CleanBC plan to establish targets in line with the BC Climate Emergency Action Plan. Our committee also put forward constitutional amendments which were hotly debated and sparked good conversation throughout the delegation. Ultimately these failed to pass, and we referred them back to the committee to make changes for next year. We’ll need to do some organizing to ensure that support is garnered for these resolutions in the future. There were some other resolution highlights which our delegates discuss below. They told their stories about some of the resolutions in front of the 500 delegates in attendance when given the chance as well! I’m looking forward to participating in Think Tank to help action these resolutions in the next year.

The focus of this year’s convention was on politics. Premier David Eby spoke to our delegation and answered questions about various issues that have been brought up by committees. Jagmeet Singh, Federal Leader of the NDP sent in his greetings via video. The provincial election is coming up on October 19, 2024 and the Federal Election will be called in 2025. It will be important for CUPE members to turn out at the polls to vote for progressive politicians who present solutions for working people. The NDP are responsible for the high wage increases we saw during the 2022 round of bargaining. They have made it easier for workers to unionize through card check, have repatriated healthcare workers to HEU, have implemented dental and pharmacare plans nationwide, and so much more. But the right wing has messaging of their own that is full of misinformation about what is best for workers. Make no mistake, the Liberals and Conservatives will reverse the trajectory we are on to implement better healthcare services, more housing, and higher wages.

Lisa Hoang, Diversity Chair

As a first time delegate at CUPE BC, it was wonderful to partake on discussions and seeing our delegates speak up on issues. It was intimidating speaking in front of 500+ people on your own with a mic and two big screens showing your every move and with live closed captioning and American Sign Language but I did it!

​The biggest takeaways is that there are a lot of unions that do not have caucus support groups. For example, at our union, we have a BIPOC Caucus that was created last year, but members from other locals do not have such support groups—which makes us fortunate and privileged that our union provides support to our members and that it is up to us to utilize these services and get the network and support we need and without fear or intimidation.

There are 2 actionable takeaways for us making a difference and improve on our self agency:

  • Save HandyDART (petition): Persons with disabilities and elderly use HandyDART to get to daily medical appointments, adult daycare centres, and other essential services—please support and sign the petition to help those that need it.  
  • Join the Racial Equity and Justice Caucus: there is a caucus held via Zoom every two months in the evening (personal time). Sign up here. This caucus is of the BC Federation of Labour is a space to network, and discuss on work and home issues.

Click here to read Lisa’s report of resolutions and key takeaways

Mahnoor Lone, Recording Secretary

I attended my first CUPE BC Convention this past week from 24th-27th April, 2024 along with my fellow CUPE 2950 delegates.  This convention was an extremely important experience in my journey towards learning more about unions and the labor movement in so-called Canada. It allowed me to reflect deeply on what it means to be a worker and a unionist in this moment and this place. Workers from all over the province gathered for four days at the Westin Bayshore hotel in the un-ceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. We spent these days listening to each other and learning about the significant problems our fellow unionists deal with on a daily basis as well as equity and humans right issues we want each other’s support to work on. We also heard from executive members who lead CUPE at national and provincial levels, community organizers working on urgent initiatives, and local NDP politicians.

Other attendees were vocal about their real-life instances and the hardships they had to face due to certain resolutions not being adopted and I felt moved by some of them. One resolution that I connected with and would like to state was which advocated for 5 days of paid leave for all individuals afflicted by natural and environmental disasters. I also stepped up in support of this one, which was passed on the floor. It has been difficult for CUPE 2950 employees to commute in snowstorms, especially for those who are differently abled or may be expecting, and they have had to rely on their sick time/vacation balance during such stressful times. Transit is unsafe, and not everyone has the ability or desire to go long distances to work in harsh weather. I look forward to applying such constructive principles at UBC, which safeguards our principles, solidifies the union, and establishes the framework for an equitable workforce at UBC.

 The most moving, urgent, and educational parts of the convention were, in my opinion, the debates about a range of equity and human rights resolutions undertaken by the rank and file membership of the organization. The third and fourth days of the convention were when most of these lively conversations took place. Some of the key resolutions we discussed and passed included doing more work to counter the climate crisis, lobbying for pension for all workers, ensuring paid leave for workers facing sexual and intimate partner violence, lobbying for a red-dress alert system in BC, and pushing for Truth & Reconciliation training. Additionally, several resolutions also called for CUPE BC to respond to the horrific on-going genocide in Palestine. We passed two resolutions on this subject: one that urged CUPE BC to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and another resolution calling for public support to be extended to the international BDS campaign that aims to end Israeli apartheid and oppression of Palestinians. As part of this latter resolution CUPE BC would also cease doing business with companies complicit in apartheid and genocide.

It was also extremely eye-opening to learn about the kinds of hurdles workers in other sectors face. We heard from educational assistants who routinely have to face violence from the children and young students they work with, without any adequate support. Speakers on this resolution explained that a solution to this urgent problem needs a complex response which also addresses the social causes affecting these children that are at the root of their behavior. Discussions such as these drove home the importance of building solidarity with all locals and workers within our union to support their struggles.

We also discussed resolutions about the safety and wellbeing of our 2SLGBTQIA+ workers-in-arms. One such resolution urged CUPE BC to encourage locals to work with organizations and Canadian Anti-Hate Network in light of the concerning amounts of hatred and discrimination on the rise against those identifying as 2SLGBTQIA+ , especially Trans people. Members of the Pink Triangle committee spoke to the importance of letting our local members know about these important initiatives and getting them involved. One important resource they shared is a Facebook group whereby members can find out about events and initiatives close to them.

There were also some aspects of the convention that I felt could be improved upon. For instance the very structured format of discussion was not entirely suitable for some discussions. The deep-rooted and long-standing discrimination and violence facing our indigenous comrades is one subject, for instance, that needed more space and time than three-minute speeches. In general, I did feel that incorporating more of less formal discussion spaces could improve convention. While we had some sessions like this, those were optional and did not feel enough. 

Despite these shortcomings, however, this was an extremely valuable experience. I would encourage my fellow members to consider joining convention next year. In fact, if there are subjects you feel that the union should work on it is also worthwhile to gather like-minded people and submit a resolution prior to convention.

Click here to read Mahnoor’s report of Indigenous Committee Resolutions

Ritika Nandwani, Lead Steward

It was a phenomenal chance to attend the CUPE BC Convention, which took place from April 24 to April 27, 2024, at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver. I was unacquainted of how these conventions may increase one’s worldview and awareness of current events, as well as the value of convention procedures in promoting discussions on imperative constitutional amendments and resolutions. Hearing other British Columbian locals speak ardently about their life practices was another enriching involvement. It was whole-some for me to learn from their firsthand experiences.

David Eby’s speech, which was one of the key highlights, talked about how workers in British Columbia now have the chance to enjoy their jobs, pay, benefits, and dignity—things that weren’t previously available to them. He emphasized the need for workers and elderly to maintain their dignity at every cost, which was so relatable. Additionally, he discussed the difficulties that governments in North America are currently facing with regard to homelessness, mental health, and addictions. Solutions like the need for compassion and providing safe spaces are achievable and advantageous not only at a large scale, such as for the entirety of British Columbia, but also at a micro-level, such as for an individual’s mental health or for any institution they may be employed by.

Kim Wallace, Contract Chair

The CUPE 2950 Convention was held at the Westin Bayshore from April 24-27.  I attended the convention sessions on April 25-27.  As I am new to the Union in an executive capacity, it was my first ever Convention; I was eager to use it as a learning experience.

From an overall perspective, the Convention provided a forum for CUPE members from all BC Locals to bring forth issues of concern to them and to speak to those issues for the education of all other Member delegates.  Those issues, in the form of a resolution, are then voted on by the convention delegates as a whole.  This decides whether the Union will pursue those particular resolutions.

There were several resolutions that, while not directly pertinent to UBC, could indirectly be of importance down the road.  One such resolution was the full funding of both the 1-K12 education system and of the post-secondary education system.  This could prove impactful for us at UBC should this resolution prove successful in lobbying as it could increase enrolment numbers and thus, Member workloads.

There were several resolutions around climate, health/safety (both physical and mental), disabilities (visible and invisible) that could also benefit UBC membership over the long term.

One topic that came up repeatedly was the need to engage Locals’ membership to become more involved in their local’s mission and goals.  We, at CUPE 2950, need to look into strategies to accomplish this. More engagement means more participation, means more strength and thus, ultimately, more results.

I believe that the Convention delegates from CUPE 2950 should review the resolutions passed at the Convention and select from those the ones most relevant to our local and its membership.  Education strategies should then be developed for the general membership to inform them of what CUPE is doing to advance their workplace and what our local would like to do to further that within UBC.

I am glad that I attended.  I learned a lot – a whole lot.  My head is swirling with ideas.  I would certainly encourage CUPE 2950 members to consider attending at least one convention to really see and learn just what a strong Union is capable of.

Click here to read Kim’s report from Convention