Gil Levine 1924-2009

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Wilf Day
Gil Levine 1924-2009

Gil Levine: The ultimate mensch. "Former CUPE 79 President Jeff Rose called him "a giant of the Canadian labour movement."

Giant of Canadian labour:

He was the first Research Director of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Prior to that, Gil was a crucial figure in the merger of the National Union of Public Employees and the National Union of Public Service Employees that resulted in the creation of CUPE in 1963.

For many years, his office door was emblazoned with a sign that said "Just the Facts". Gil acted on the view that artfully marshaled facts and information are a fundamental strength of unions, whether for collective bargaining or when unions advance their political and policy agenda. It was under Gil's leadership that CUPE began to publish The CUPE Facts which provided core information and analysis for the Canadian labour movement for many years. During his tenure as Research Director, CUPE pioneered the use of computer databases to track collective agreement information through the System for the Analysis of Labour Agreement Data (S.A.L.A.D.).

Gil was also an exemplar of staff leadership in the union movement. He knew that, especially when it comes to options and analysis, full-time staff are an important complement to elected union leadership. Gil was fully engaged in the debates and evolution of the union.

He remained engaged in all the major issues facing CUPE and was the only person to have attended every CUPE National Convention since 1963.

Former CUPE President Jeff Rose added, "Gil Levine was a deeply intelligent and passionate individual whose support for the struggles of working people for a good income, decent working conditions, respect on the job, and a caring society was principled and unwavering. No one has had as much influence on the development of CUPE as Gil Levine. He was a good friend and a giant of Canadian labour history."



Many tributes in his [url=]g... book[/url], like this one:


To Gil's family and loved ones, my deepest condolences. Gil was a real inspiration to me for so many years...his wisdom, compassion, courage and socialism were remarkable.
Truly a life well lived...thank you.

Svend Robinson,

And this one:


Gil will be missed. Luckily we have memories of good time and his influence on our lives. For instance, he brought me into contact with the labour movement by getting to me to write up a brief for CUPE on nationalizing the banks. Not everyone in the labour movement liked it, or Gil for that matter. So I became identified with him, which was fine by me, quite an honour actually. We continued to work together, doing a special issue of the Facts on Free Trade. In fact the first meeting of the research and analysis team of the Pro-Canada network was held at CUPE, thanks to Gil. He was part of a small group that wanted to start PINC the People's Issues National Council (guess who came up with the name). Those meeting led to the creation of the Pro-Canada later Action Canada Network. They also influenced my views about what the CCPA should be doing -- activist research -- when I became president.

I was always pleased knowing that I had a better Jewish mother story than he did, and my mother was not Jewish, (though you would not want to have reminded her of that).

Gil organized the labour tennis tournament and I played. It was unlike any other tournament, it was a gas.

At some point Gil apparently retired, but you would have never known it. he still called wanting things done, and to exchange rumours. He was the best of comrades.

Now my one regret, now that he is gone, the next time I get myself in trouble with everybody, who can I call for advise on what to do?

duncan cameron,
Vancouver, British Columbia

Wilf Day

Remembering Gil Levine

Friends, family, and colleagues joined together on Saturday, December 12, 2009 in Ottawa to celebrate the life of CUPE founding member Gil Levine. Watch the memorial service, hosted by Jane Stinson and Leo Panitch.


I once had a critical conversation with Gil during a tough period. He listened understandingly, said "Hang in there-don't give up" and gave me a hug. And that is what I did, and what I send back to those he loved most.

Anne Lagace Dowson,
Montreal, Quebec

I hope she listens to him and runs again next time!


I agree!

Bookish Agrarian

As a very young Local president I had the honour of meeting Gil.  I was amazed at the interest he took in our struggle to organize our small, out of the way Local and the keen sense he passed on to us as to how important our work at managing to successfully organize that Local was.

I went away from the meeting with the knowledge I had just been in the presence of a truly special human being.