As you may be aware, CUPE National communications, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn’s “thoughts”, and CUPE Local 3096’s tweets have recently been circulating. These were relating to perspectives on the humanitarian crisis which our crews saw front and centre going into Tel Aviv. We felt it paramount that we reiterate our structure and full autonomy from the National Union and its locals.
CUPE Ontario is a Division of CUPE National. CUPE locals can choose to affiliate with CUPE Ontario or not. The decision lies with individual locals. This is unlike our relationship with CUPE National who is our bargaining agent and where your dues go.
CUPE Ontario and its operations are based on affiliation fees paid by locals who choose to affiliate themselves. Your Air Canada Component of CUPE is not affiliated to CUPE Ontario and has never provided funding in any regard to them. We affiliate with the Airline Division of CUPE. This affiliation is mutually beneficial and is a good platform with which to bring all airline locals together.
CUPE Local 3906, who represent academic workers at McMaster University, is a CUPE local to which the Air Canada Component has no affiliation whatsoever. CUPE National did not consult, discuss, or involve us in their decisions and public stance on what has happened in the Middle East. The same can be said for CUPE Ontario.
We strongly oppose any viewpoint that weighs in on the political aspects of this crisis. We sincerely hope that peace and stability can be restored to the region. We believe that the images circulating and the online discussions taking place take away from the fundamental role of a Labour Union. It is our job to defend employee’s rights and raise up the working class. We are not here to engage in hate speech or comments that are inflammatory and only perpetuate further conflict. What we have seen is appalling and concerning. Many of you have reached out with valid concerns and speak about the impact that this is having on your personal well being. Some members report a strong need to distance themselves from these very public statements.
We want to assure you; we have written to our national union and provided our very frank and raw feedback. We have expressed the concerns of our own and those of our members who wrote passionate and sincere emails about how this has impacted them.
In response we received the following form letter from CUPE National:
Thank you for reaching out to us and expressing your concerns about comments made by some CUPE members recently on the situation in Palestine and Israel. We acknowledge the harm that has been done to many of our members, to the goodwill our union has built within our communities, and to our reputation.
Ill-intentioned people created a fake image using CUPE’s branding, and it was shared broadly on social media. Although we contacted “X” (formerly known as Twitter) to have this horrible image taken down, we were not able to control its spread. The post included a quote from a CUPE local account that was taken out of context. The quote has been removed since, but the harm was done.
While there is no formal process for members to file a complaint against other locals or divisions within the union, rest assured that the National President has spoken to leaders about their posts and has shared the concerns raised by many of our members.
CUPE’s statement (https://cupe.ca/cupe-statement-violence-palestine-and-israel) condemns the horrific acts committed by Hamas and in no way supports them. CUPE also condemns the full siege that has now been declared on Gaza by Israel. CUPE has always called for processes aimed at genuine peace and justice in the region.
We apologize for how things unfolded in the past few days and commit to repairing and rebuilding our solidarity.
Their carefully worded form letter does not go far enough and clearly does not address the core of our issues. It does not even come close to mitigating what has happened or provide assurances for our very eloquent members. Your Component and Local executives will be at the CUPE National Convention in two weeks. We assure you that we will insist that your voices are heard and will expect that in future, unacceptable and hateful commentary will be dealt with. Those who created and dispersed this commentary must be held accountable.