Greeting fellow AUPE members,
I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe as we make our way to the end of an unprecedented year.
I’m sure that you’re as eager as I am to say farewell (or something less polite) to 2020 and start looking forward to better times ahead.
In the past year our members have displayed dedication, professionalism and compassion on the front lines, shown courage on the picket lines, provided hope on the phone lines, and some have even been heartlessly thrown on to the unemployment lines.
At the same time, you’ve drawn your line in the sand. A line against a government that has shamelessly used the Covid crisis to push forward it’s ideological agenda through budget cuts, job cuts, and cuts to your constitutional rights via legislation.
All Albertans, including AUPE members, have experienced the mental, physical, and emotional pain from the social dislocation, disruption, stress and uncertainty of the past year. No worker has been immune to the massive societal upheavals, made even worse by the UCP government which has continued with its plan to cremate jobs in the public sector while having no plan to create jobs in the private sector. Consequently, every community in our province is hurting.
But it has been AUPE members, and other workers, who have been there for Albertans to ease the pain. Against massive odds, short staffing, fear, uncertainty, exhaustion and frustration, the value of public services, which form the fabric of our society, were there for all to see and rely upon. Albertans understand that value more than ever and will continue to realize that ripping the social fabric apart through job loss, service cuts and privatization irreparably damages our province.
That is why when AUPE members took to the picket lines on October 26 to fight for jobs and oppose privatization, Albertans were cheering them on. For the first time ordinary working people had stood up to a powerful and authoritarian government that has been imposing its ideology like a playground bully.
The wildcat strike, and the brave workers who participated in it, raised the curtain and took centre stage in the opening of what will be a long and escalating struggle for all AUPE members. Make no mistake, all members should be preparing to strike to defend their jobs, their working conditions, their rights and their collective agreements. This government, and the employers they dictate to, will not be shoved off their agenda without mass force through direct action and strikes. This is what 2021 holds for all of us. So, let us be prepared!
But let us also take whatever time and space we can, and need, to look after ourselves and each other. The severe pressures that Covid has exerted over the entire world and here at home in Alberta have been unbearable at times. With the arrival of widespread vaccination those pressures will ease. This is good news and provides hope at the end of a miserable year.
Ultimately, while our collective compassion and empathy have been put under immense stress, they have not been broken. They must never be broken.
Let us commit, and ensure, that we use the strength we have had to rely upon this past year to the benefit of all for a better Alberta in 2021.
Best wishes to you, your family, friends and loved ones.
Take care. Stay safe.