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The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) was formed in 1963 by merging the National Union of Public Employees and the National Union of Public Service Employees. CUPE is now Canada’s largest union. With over 600,000 members across Canada, CUPE represents workers in health care, education, municipalities, libraries, universities, social services, public utilities, transportation, emergency services and airlines.
CUPE is a strong and democratic union that is committed to improving the quality of life for workers in Canada. Women and men working together to form local unions built CUPE. They did so to have a stronger voice – a collective voice – in their workplace and in society as a whole. Together they have won the right to negotiate their wages and working conditions; to stop arbitrary action by employers; and to speak out without fear of reprisal. In 1967, CUPE made labour history when the members elected Grace Hartman as national secretary-treasurer. She was the first woman to hold a top position within a Canadian union. In the same year, CUPE made its first pay equity breakthrough when female members working for the city of London, Ontario won an end to wage discrimination enshrined in separate wage schedules for men and women.