On October 27th, 2009 CUPE local 3903 was put under administration by CUPE National. Administration means that the executive and members of local 3903 lose the ability to make their own decisions and the ability to determine their own fate. Instead, an administrator, a representative of CUPE National, makes all the decisions, and, for all intents and purposes, has become a dictator over the local. The administrator, Lynn McDougal has been heard saying “I am CUPE 3903,” which goes against the most basic principles of unionism — a union is its members.
Administration is a very rare occurrence in labour and only takes place in rare and extreme circumstances. There are some serious issues that need to be resolved in CUPE 3903, including finances and a “culture of harassment and intimidation.” However, measures to address financial errors have already been put into place by the membership. Issues of harassment and intimidation are unclear and clear examples have yet to be revealed to the membership. Either way these issues play out, there is still no reason why members of CUPE 3903 cannot be presented with the seriousness of these issues at a General Membership Meeting and come up with a solution for themselves.
In putting the local under administration, the role that 3903’s executive team played suggests the development of a culture of non-confidence in itself and a lack of trust in the membership. Thus, CUPE 3903 must first seek to lift administration and then move to elect a new executive team whose first order of business should be to deal with the pressing issues facing the local in a democratic, member-driven fashion.
An Ad-Hoc group calling itself the Ad-Hoc Committee Against Administration has been created by CUPE 3903 rank-and-file members with the aim of opposing administration and restoring democracy and autonomy to the local. Fightback extends its support to the members of CUPE 3903 and this ad-hoc group created to represent their interests. Union democracy is a core element of Fightback’s political stance and we will continue to advocate, fight for, and defend it.