The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 543 has had a long history in Windsor.
In 1953, the City of Windsor Inside Workers decided the best way to advance an agenda of worker rights was by forming a union. On the 18th day of June 1953, the newly formed Windsor Municipal Office Employees’ Federal Union No. 543 was officially recognised. Within a very short time frame, the City of Windsor Inside Workers decided to add their voices to the broader national struggle for fairness and equity by becoming members of a new union called the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE). The City of Windsor Inside Workers were represented by NUPE for nearly a decade, until it merged with the smaller National Union of Public Service Employees (NUPSE).
In 1963, from the merger of NUPE and NUPSE, a new much larger union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), was formed. Similar to its national organisation, CUPE Local 543 was and continues to be made up of predominantly female members. Paramount to the union struggle has been the fight for equality. CUPE has embraced and advanced the issues of equal pay for work of equal value, maternity benefits, health and safety in the workplace, and many other worker rights issues. Although we have come a long way, the struggle continues at workplaces around Canada and indeed the world.
As the broader labour movement growth slowed, stalled, then declined over the last 50 years, CUPE expanded rapidly. Today CUPE Local 543 is a composite local representing over 1500 members. Our members have a voice in the largest union in Canada, now representing almost 650,000 members nationally. Local 543 members are proud public servants/service employees serving Windsorites in daycare (ABC Day Nursery and Great Beginnings Child Centred Cooperative Incorp.), public health (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit), community housing (Windsor Essex Community Housing Corp.), environmental sustainability (Prism Berlie), and municipal services (Corp. of the City of Windsor).
Although the struggles of the working class have intensified over the last number of years, it has not deterred the daily work of Local 543’s members. They continue to be a voice for all working people, unionised or not, championing better working conditions, healthy and safe workplaces, social justice, and equity rights.
As we stand united in a common purpose, we can make positive change in our community, our province, and our country. We are proud to call Windsor our home!