President's Message, Renewing the fight
Our organization has been facing new challenges in recent months, both in the political arena and at the bargaining table. It is abundantly clear that the rights of federal government workers as well as a number of their basic freedoms are now being threatened. To meet these new challenges, CAPE must constantly revitalize its practices and develop new strategies that will allow it to better defend the rights and employment conditions of its members.
In the present context, it was felt that our best option for ensuring a positive outcome to the current round of collective bargaining was to combine the strengths and energies of the various bargaining units. By presenting a unified front, the federal bargaining agents would respond more effectively to the government’s demands for concessions. Too often in the past, the employer has taken advantage of the bargaining agents’ lack of strategic cohesion to impose its will at the bargaining table. As we approached this new round of bargaining, therefore, it became clear that inter-union cooperation was vital, and we are now working hand in hand with the other federal bargaining agents. It is important to note, however, that this cooperation has been achieved while maintaining the autonomy and distinct personality of our organization.
As part of their agreement to work together, the bargaining agents have made a commitment to use whatever human and financial resources are necessary to fight the concessions proposed by the employer at the bargaining table. We have also initiated legal steps to have some of the clauses of Bill C-4 overturned. In addition, we are working hard to make our members aware of the fact that their freedoms of association and expression are being threatened, and to obtain concrete support from unions in the private sector, community organizations and the general public.
It is also imperative to mobilize all of our members as never before. This can only be done by keeping our members fully informed about all that is happening at the bargaining table and on the political front. We have already given mobilization courses, and several Locals have been reorganized to ensure that all of CAPE’s components have strong leadership, thus making it easier to communicate with members and gather their opinions when it comes time for us to make important decisions.
CAPE uses a variety of means to transmit relevant information as quickly as possible to its membership: the CAPE website, email and social media. Members who subscribe to CAPE’s RSS feed will automatically receive news that is posted on the website. It is important for members to make sure that we have their personal email address on our address list, because some departments and agencies have set up barriers that filter out our emails. In addition, members who follow us on Twitter will receive not just information on the union, but also information concerning the political situation and changes affecting the public service as a whole.
Lastly, we have made some significant changes to CAPE’s political activities. We are now registered in the Federal Registry of Lobbyists, and we are meeting more and more often with MPs and senators in order to present CAPE’s views on the protection of workers’ rights and the electoral consequences that could arise if the government persists in attacking those rights. In closing, I would be remiss if I did not recognize the effective work being done by CAPE’s members and staff to steadily improve our mobilization, our communications and our political action. Their combined efforts have made it possible for us to continue to protect the rights of CAPE’s members.
The photo shows Larry Rousseau, PSAC Regional Executive Vice President for the National Capital Region (on the left) and Claude Poirier, CAPE President, during the September 15 demonstration in Ottawa.