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Posts published in “News”

Day of Pink – Apr 14, 2021

On April 14, wear pink in solidarity with LGBTQ2+ people

Exclusion and violence against marginalized communities are ongoing problems that are amplified in crises like pandemics. LGBTQ2+ workers may experience homophobia and transphobia in their jobs, public spaces and sometimes personal spaces. Transgender workers are disproportionately denied jobs, healthcare and housing and face high rates of bullying and violence. LGBTQ2+ workers who are also marginalized by class, white supremacy, colonialism and ableism, are even more likely to have precarious employment, low income and insecure housing. At the same time, they’re also more likely to face surveillance, over-aggressive policing and assault.

With COVID-19, disparities have grown. Employment conditions have worsened.  Racism has spiked. Safer spaces are closed. In these and other areas of life, the LGBTQ2+ community is unevenly hit.

Unfortunately, equity measures are being put on the back burner at the very time they’re needed most. Initiatives to build cultural competency (greater organizational understanding and better practices) around gender and sexual diversity have been postponed. Employment equity initiatives in some workplaces have been paused. Equity offices are working short.

Attention is rightly focused on pandemic-related safety, but decades of underfunding and privatization have left public services short-staffed and under-resourced. Before COVID-19, equity measures were a patchwork. Now that patchwork is stretched even thinner.

CUPE members working with LGBTQ2+ seniors know the particular challenges this community faces.  This year, CUPE has released a report, co-written with Egale and Carleton University, on safer public services for LGBTQ2+ workers and LGBTQ2+ service users. The report finds that working conditions for LGBTQ2+ workers are related to service conditions for LGBTQ2+ clients, and vice versa. It also identifies several promising practices to make public services more inclusive for LGBTQ2+ workers and service users, including employment equity and safety standards tied to funding.

On April 14, take a stand against bullying. Wear pink and post a photo on social media #dayofpink.

Let’s work together to stop bullying and harassment. Visit our LGBTQ2+ page for more info.

https://cupe.ca/event/day-pink

CUPE condemns anti-Asian racism

Since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in China, Asian Canadian communities have experienced an increase in racist threats, slurs and physical violence.

A new report by the Chinese Canadian National Council documents over 1,000 racist incidents directed at members of the Asian community in Canada over the past year.

The intensification of anti-Asian discrimination is not limited to Canada. In the United States, Asian Americans have also experienced a spike in racist crime and abuse. This includes the tragic loss of Asian and immigrant women killed last week at their workplaces in Atlanta.

CUPE stands in solidarity with Asian communities. Our union is committed to the ongoing fight for human rights across the country and will continue to be in solidarity with workers across the globe.

CUPE invites members to join in a moment of silence on Friday, March 26 at 1:00 pm Eastern as we recognize and honour the lives lost last week in Atlanta.

https://cupe.ca/cupe-condemns-anti-asian-racism

World Water Day

On World Water Day (March 22), CUPE commits to end water injustice in Indigenous communities and to fight privatization of water and wastewater services.

Safe, reliable water and wastewater services are a human right and the heart of healthy communities. But these rights are denied to many Indigenous communities in Canada. Water services and resources are also under growing pressure to privatize.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted just how important clean water is to our health and safety. Clean water for hand washing is essential to stop the spread of the virus – something that is almost impossible for Indigenous peoples living in communities with no clean water and overcrowded housing.

Colonization continues to have devastating effects on Indigenous communities. Access to water and sanitation are human rights according to international law, yet many Indigenous communities in Canada have water that’s unsafe to drink or wash with. Some communities have lived with unsafe water for decades. Other First Nations don’t have any functioning water system at all.

Even before the pandemic began last year, the federal Liberal government wasn’t on track to meet its commitment to end all boil water advisories in First Nation communities by March 2021. Worse, that plan doesn’t have enough long-term, predictable funding for operations and maintenance to end the crisis.

Indigenous peoples are defending and reclaiming their water and territories, protecting them from discriminatory policies and actions known as environmental racism. It’s a form of systemic racism that disproportionately affects Indigenous, Black and racialized people. Many Indigenous communities rely on water sources that have been harmed by resource development projects or are being threatened by new development going through their territories. Corporate resource extraction, including the bottled water industry, is draining water sources, while Indigenous communities next door don’t have access to safe drinking water.

For these reasons and more, CUPE members adopted a resolution at our 2019 convention proclaiming “Water is Life” and recognizing this basic human right for all people. The resolution supports reconciliation by honoring Indigenous peoples’ role as the stewards and protectors of the waters of their treaty lands and traditional unceded territories.

CUPE has a long history of defending public water and wastewater services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we must be on the lookout for new threats to our water, including from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). The Liberal government’s bank of privatization is targeting water and wastewater systems and cash-strapped municipalities and Indigenous communities.

We can stop the spread of water privatization by contracting in. Some local governments are making the choice to end privatization, taking back public ownership and control of water and wastewater services. Learn more about how to bring water and wastewater services back in house and stay alert for signs of privatization in your community.

Learn, act and engage:

  • Coming soon: watch for the launch of the Water is Life campaign, led by CUPE’s National Indigenous Council. Read this Counterpoint feature article about the urgent need for safe, reliable and well-maintained water and wastewater systems in Indigenous communities, and the call to protect and heal water in Indigenous territories. 
  • Be on alert for the Canada Infrastructure Bank in your community. Share CUPE’s list of questions for municipal officials with your local elected representatives and with members of your local, and learn more about how the bank’s first water privatization project failed. Find more CIB resources at cupe.ca/not-for-sale
  • Use our checklist to spot the early warning signs of privatization during the pandemic, and share it with members of your local.
  • Order copies of Back in House. This report documents the benefits of contracting in and tells the story of water services coming back in house in several Canadian communities.
Artwork by Christi Belourt, "Manitou Giigoonh #2, 2017, Acrylic on Canvas"

Niibi Bimaadiziwin - Water is life

Checklist: Protecting public services during the pandemic and beyond

Not for sale

Mapleton rejects private takeover of local water system

The Canada Infrastructure Bank: 10 essential questions for municipalities

https://cupe.ca/event/world-water-day

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Every year on March 21, CUPE marks the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

And every day, CUPE members across the country continue to confront ongoing racism in our union, communities and workplaces, including racial profiling and criminalization, Islamophobia, lack of employment and education opportunities, inadequate health care, precarious work, unequal access to public services, environmental racism and lack of basic human rights for migrant workers.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, racism towards Asian, Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities has spiked. This spike is a pattern of refueled racism towards marginalized populations.

CUPE stands strong members experiencing racism. CUPE does not tolerate any harassing, racist and discriminatory remarks and acts of violence against anyone. Instead of division, we need global and local cooperation, and mutual aid.

CUPE embraces its members, neighbours and friends in this trying time, and re-affirms that unions play a vital role in fighting hatred and fear in Canada and around the world.

It is important for our members facing any form of racism, discrimination and or harassment to contact their local steward or executive member to file a complaint and or grievance. It is equally important for Locals to act promptly by listening to the member and by ensuring that the complaint is brought through the entire grievance process.

At the same time, March 21 is also a time to recognize the significant achievements of Black, Indigenous and racialized peoples in advancing equality and justice in our communities, our workplaces and our union. This includes our members whose activism has strengthened our movement by bringing new ideas, perspectives and energy into the struggles of working people.

MEMBERS CAN TAKE ACTION

Learn

  • Take a workshop, book a speaker. Register for a union workshop that deals with anti-racism practices, dealing with harassment, discrimination or bullying. Invite someone to speak about anti-racism at your next union meeting.
  • Sign up for updates and read Canadian Labour Congress report on Islamophobia and how to fight it in the workplace.

Act

  • Download and print CUPE’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination poster.
  • Support the Migrant Rights Network in their campaign for justice for migrant workers in the age of Coronavirus. Sign their petition and share with your networks.
  • Intervene. Educate yourself on the best ways to intervene to challenge racist actions and how best to support the person or group affected. Speak out against racist acts like jokes, slurs, graffiti or name-calling.
  • Challenge your workplace. Speak out about racist and discriminatory policies and practices in your workplace.
  • Challenge yourself. Consider how some of your own assumptions might be influenced by discrimination.
  • Become an ally. An ally is someone who actively supports racialized groups facing challenges. Being in alliance helps strengthen relationships in the workplace.

Bargain

  • Negotiate employment equity language into your collective agreement. Contact the Human Rights branch for information at humanrights@cupe.ca

https://cupe.ca/event/day-racism

International Women’s Day 2021!!!

As we fight for women’s rights, we must recognize that all struggles for human rights and justice are interconnected. To achieve justice for all women, we must dismantle all forms of oppression faced by women.

Across the country, CUPE members are participating in virtual community events celebrating women’s activism and reaffirming our commitment to gender justice.

The theme of IWD this year is “Choose to Challenge,” which is a very apt theme for CUPE and the broader labour movement. Unions exist to challenge the status quo, whether at the bargaining table, the workplace or in our communities. Let’s all “choose to challenge” the patriarchal inequities and barriers that women face. As we emerge from the pandemic—which disproportionately affected women, particularly marginalized women—it is essential that we demand that governments at all levels ensure that the economic recovery from the pandemic be centred on women.

Women who experience racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, transphobia and other forms of discrimination face particular challenges that must be addressed.

We encourage all members and Locals in B.C. to participate in (virtual) events in their communities, and we recommit our union to continuing the fight for true equality.

https://cupe.ca/event/international-womens-day