Sep 15, 2017

CUPE mourns passing of longtime activist and staff representative Jeff Lawson

BURNABY—Last night, longtime CUPE activist and staff representative Jeff Lawson passed away.

“Along with so many CUPE members all over the country who knew Jeff well, my heart is broken,” said CUPE National president Mark Hancock. “Jeff was a true trade unionist—always living his values and ideals. 

“But above all, Jeff was a friend and a brother, not just to me but to literally thousands of members of CUPE and the labour movement. 

“My deepest condolences to Jocelyn, his wife of 32 years, and to all his family and friends.”

Jeff Lawson began his activism in CUPE as a member of Local 1622 (SPCA employees), eventually becoming president of the local. He served on CUPE BC’s Executive Board as a general vice president and served as a National Representative from 2008 until his passing. In his last posting, he served for many years as the Local Community Organizer for CUPE BC’s Strong Communities Working Group. In addition to his activism within CUPE and with the NDP, he was a passionate Vancouver Canucks supporter and a lover of music—especially the music of the Beatles.

CUPE BC President Paul Faoro said that the Division’s Executive Board will pay tribute to Brother Lawson at its meeting next week. Details of funeral arrangements will be announced once they are confirmed.

“Jeff was always there for his sisters, brothers and friends in the labour movement,” said Faoro. “If you needed something—anything—done, Jeff was always at the top of the list. Need CUPE flags and a sound system for a rally on short notice? Jeff was the guy. If you needed constitutional language or local bylaws updated, Jeff was the guy.

“Jeff was always one of the hardest working and deeply committed activists it’s ever been my honour to know. ‘Solidarity’ wasn’t just an abstract word for Jeff—it was who he is. 

“In addition to his work within our union, Jeff was a life-long New Democrat who put in countless hours on countless election campaigns. I know that Jeff was elated to have seen the election of Premier John Horgan and his BC NDP government.

“While we are all devastated by his passing, I hope that in time we will all take at least some measure of comfort from the memories of Jeff’s passion, commitment and laughter. On behalf of all 87,000 CUPE members in British Columbia, our thoughts are with Jeff’s wife, Jocelyn, and their family, and all Jeff’s many, many friends.”

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