Unions: Winnipeg’s Daniel Talde becomes CUPE’s National Rep

Updated: January 29, 2024, 6 PM


Daniel Talde: Of Activism and Taking It Further

By Levy Abad

After 55 years of the Filipino community in Winnipeg, we have Daniel Talde taking labour activism furthest by becoming the National Rep for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)-Winnipeg Manitoba, and the first Filipino to be a National Rep of CUPE Canada. CUPE Canada is a sister union of the strongest government union in the Philippines, the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees or COURAGE.

Of Poems and Essays

I met Daniel sometime between 2012 and 2016 at a poetry and essay reading event in the residence of an activist friend. He brought with him a short essay titled “Home: The Heart of the Real,” an output from a writing workshop held in the Millennium Library, Winnipeg with the theme “Past is Another Country-Finding your Voice.”

His writing piece captured my attention since he mentioned some familiar places. It was during this time when I was an organizer of Migrante from 2012 to 2020 and an active member of the New Democratic Party, in which I interacted with organizers of CUPE. It was also around this time when I started writing articles on some Filipino CUPE leaders that will be part of my second book project “Giving Back and Paying Forward: Narrative of Filipino Labour Leaders of Winnipeg from 1968 to present.” Among them were the late Mario Javier; the late Ernie Pionela, Treasurer of Local 1550; Ed Torres, Executive of Local 1550; Joe Rarama, Chair of Local 1550 (2016-17) and Michael “Mike Paj” Pajemolin, Vice-President CUPE 204 HSC site.

From Davao to CUPE National Rep

A musician friend suggested contacting CUPE leader Mestito Limson who is a Unit Rep (President) and Local 500 Executive and Table Officer of the Local. Mestito shared with me that Daniel is already a National Representative of CUPE, together with a person named Niño Jurial.  I was surprised and proud to learn that my friend and fellow Davaoeño is now a National Rep of Canada’s strongest union of public employees. I decided to interview Daniel and send him some questions to which he happily obliged.

Tell us something about yourself.

I grew up in Monkayo, Davao De Oro Province, Mindanao, a hotbed of communist insurgency in the 1980s.

Before coming to Winnipeg, Manitoba, on October 27, 2012, I had been with the University of the Philippines in the Visayas-Tacloban College since 1994, where I held the position of Associate Professor 3 in Political Science. I hold a Master of Arts in Philippine Studies degree from the Asian Center, in U.P. Diliman, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the Mindanao State University

I am seriously involved in several research works and have several publications to my name. These include my co-authorships of the book “Kasaysayan ng Filipinas at ang Institusyong Filipino” (Philippine History and the Filipino Institutions), published by the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino: Universidad ng Pilipinas. Refereed articles that I published as sole author can be mostly accessed through E-Journal | Daniel C. Talde (ejournals.ph).

My involvement in research and publication was duly acknowledged when I earned a seat as an individual member of the Committee on Historical Research of the prestigious National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

Where did you get your Union awareness? Were you an activist before becoming a Unionist?

I became aware about labor unions when I was a political science student at Mindanao State University. My university professor introduced labor and social movements in our class. When I immersed myself in the community, my intellectual awareness about social and labor movements broadened. I participated in rallies and mass actions of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1 Movement) in Iligan City.

I was an activist before I became a Unionist. I was the chairperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) at MSU, where we believe in the struggle for National Democracy. As part of the Youth and Student Movement, we believe that our sector alone cannot solve our own issues and concerns, such as excessive tuition increases and low quality of education. Thus, we believe the solution to our problems lies in eradicating societal issues such as Imperialism, Feudalism, and Bureaucratic Capitalism. This is why the LFS forged solidarity with labor groups and other mass organizations in the country.

How did you end up with CUPE and later as a National Representative?

From October 2013 to December 2019, I worked as a Health Care Aide (HCA) at the Riverview Health Centre. As an organized workplace, I actively participated in the Union issues and concerns with the following positions: 

Trustee (January 2016-January 2018),

Union Warden (February 2018-May 2019),

Campaigner-CUPE Health Care Representative (August 2018-September 2019), and

CUPE National Servicing Representative (January 2020-present).

What is the importance of Unionism for workers and folks in general?

I subscribe to CUPE’s position on the importance of Unionism for workers and folks. Said position can be accessed through the CUPE website: Top 10 Union advantages | Canadian Union of Public Employees (cupe.ca) to wit: Higher wages, Greater equality, Pensions/benefits, Job security and tenure, Health and safety, Predictable hours, Training and education, Transparency and equitable due process, Workplace democracy, and Advocacy and political action.

Nothing falls from the sky for free

Daniel lined up some of the benefits of being part of a union or the union movement. Nothing falls from the sky for free and the workers or people, in general, have to fight for it that is why we have the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike as a landmark event in Canadian history to always look back to and guide the workers in their quest for comprehensive social empowerment.

Another interesting aspect that I gained from all my research and interviews with the Filipino Canadian Labour leaders here in Winnipeg is the different levels of ideological discernment of leaders whom I met. I have learned that most were shaped by Social Democratic principles as espoused by the NDP, which defends and advances the workers’ welfare within the Canadian Democratic framework. There were a few who had been influenced by liberal democracy and maybe five who were already equipped with theories of social change even before joining the union movement here in Winnipeg, like Daniel Talde who had been already immersed in the labour movement in the Philippines as a student activist. One can glean that more or less, only two percent of Filipino union leaders whom I interviewed are imbued with theories of social change and a wealth of experience shaped by practices from both semi-feudal, semi-colonial (Philippines), and capitalist contexts (Canada). This provided them with sharp analysis and enabled them to quickly adapt to the social dynamics of Canada. It also allowed them to align with the social movement or the labour movement in particular, and contribute to the general welfare of society.

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