COMMUNITY ELECTIONS CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES B.C. DIVISION
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TAKIN’ IT TO THE STREETS CUPE BC ramps up Ten Percent Shift, election campaigns
leading us barry o’neill
“You know that ‘Local First’ is catching on when a giant multinational financial institution like HSBC starts calling itself ‘your local bank’!”
Half a century of keeping B.C. strong appy New Year, to all 85,000 CUPE BC members! I hope you were able to enjoy the holidays with your friends and families and get some much-needed rest after an extremely busy 2011. As we plan our activities for this coming year – including CUPE BC’s 49th annual convention, April 25-28 in Victoria – it’s important to look back on the year past as well. It was a remarkable year for our province, our country, and our union. As this edition of the Public Employee went into production, CUPE members all over the province had just finished working on the November local elections, which saw a record number of CUPE members run as candidates (see pages 10-11). Thanks to everyone who took the time to run for office, and also to CUPE members who volunteered on progressive campaigns.
Last year, you heard a lot from me about the Ten Percent Shift, and you’ll hear lots more this year as we continue with the second phase of the campaign (see story, page opposite). In addition to great support from CUPE members, we’re also getting strong interest from the business community and local governments. Stay tuned for more information on the Shift as the campaign continues. And if you or your local would like a Shift presentation, let us know, either through the website or by contacting me directly at CUPE BC. The concept of “Local First” is becoming more and more popular, both as an approach to supporting and building strong communities and as a marketing tool for some businesses and corporations that are anything but local. You know the concept is catching on when a giant multinational financial institution like HSBC starts calling itself “your local bank”! If you’re looking for a local alternative to banking at a multinational, my advice is to look at one of the credit unions in your community.
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GOING MOBILE Barry O’Neill addresses CUPE National convention rally from the platform of CUPE BC’s brand-new community trailer, constructed by members of CUPE 1004 with locally-made materials.
On November 1, I was very proud to unveil our CUPE BC community events trailer at our union’s national convention in Vancouver. My original plan for the trailer was that it would be 100 per cent British Columbian. That just wasn’t possible, so I tried to have it built 100 per cent Canadian. That also wasn’t possible, but at the end of the day I’m very happy to be able to say that 99 per cent of the materials and components used in the trailer are North American. That was no easy task but it’s been worth the effort, and I want to thank the members of CUPE 1004 who built the trailer. I know that members all over the province will be proud to see it as a symbol of our union at community events now and in the future. To view photos of the trailer, visit the gallery at www.cupe.bc.ca. Next year – 2013 – will mark CUPE BC’s 50th anniversary, and I’d love to hear ideas from members on how we should best celebrate this milestone. From humble beginnings, we have grown to be the largest union in B.C. We’re an integral part of almost every community in the province, and our success is due entirely to you, our members. I look forward to seeing many of you at Convention in Victoria in April. Barry O’Neill is president of CUPE BC.
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CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n members on the front line Health activists meet
RIC H MOND | Members of CUPE 15, 1978, 3495 and 4816 came together in October to discuss current issues in the healthcare field and identify CUPE’s bargaining priorities for the upcoming round of negotiations. Attendees heard from guest speaker Mike Farnworth, MLA for Port Coquitlam and the Opposition Health Critic, who noted that the Christy Clark Liberal government’s mishandling of health care shows it is “time for change in B.C.” Results from bargaining surveys were also discussed. All members expressed a strong desire for wage increases and vented their frustration with government mandates that do not reflect the rising cost of living in B.C.
BIG WIN FOR WATER P OR T AL BE R NI | Beaver Creek resi-
dents are keeping their water public. They proved it by voting 73 per cent against a pricey P3 plan in October. Instead, the Beaver Creek Improvement District will now join the AlberniClayoquot Regional District. “It’s been years since I could trust the water that comes out of my tap,” said local activist Susan Roth, who spearheaded a small but dedicated Alberni Valley Water Watch campaign to a huge victory. “Now we’ll get a system upgrade and better quality water – that’s a victory for all residents.” The proposed P3 would have locked Beaver Creek into a 21-year deal with private contractor Corix.
PUTTING WORDS INTO ACTION CUPE BC’s new Ten Percent Shift campaign website offers plenty of user-friendly ideas on how to strengthen communities by shifting even a small portion of household spending to locally-produced goods.
‘Shift’ campaign in Phase Two Tour dates, social media have raised awareness of ‘Local First’ issues BUR NABY | CUPE BC’s Ten Percent
Shift campaign is continuing to gain momentum throughout the province. Launched just a year ago, the Shift began its second phase in October with a keynote address by CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill to a well-attended luncheon co-sponsored and hosted by the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Labour Congress, and the North Central Labour Council. That was followed by some new social media tools that have boosted the campaign’s profile.
The Shift encourages people to shift ten per cent of their spending to locallymade products from a locally-owned, independent business. The new phase of the campaign includes a significantly improved website that provides more tools for “Shifters” who want to use their consumer spending to strengthen their local economy and community. Visit tenpercentshift.ca to see our new videos, take the Pledge, and learn more about how shifting consumer spending can improve local economies and give communities the tools they need to provide strong public services. MO R E O NL I NE : www.tenpercentshift.ca Facebook: Facebook.com/tenpercentshift Twitter: follow @TenPercentShift
CUPE BARGAINING CONFERENCE CUPE activists will be preparing for the next round of contract talks with a bargaining strategies conference, to be held at the Vancouver Airport Sheraton Hotel in Richmond, January 31 February 3. The conference theme is “Bridging our Sectors to Strengthen Free Collective Bargaining in B.C.” WINTER 2012
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VOICES “I also receive money from independent businesses and from individuals. If you would like to donate to my campaign I would be happy to receive it from you! Warning: all donations to my campaign are disclosed as per the provincial government regulations!” North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto, a CUPE 873 member, gets full marks for honesty and wit from columnist Trevor Lautens for his unapologetic acknowledgement that he receives campaign donations from CUPE. North Shore News, Friday, November 11, 2011.
“They spent $65,000 and they diverted all this storm water away from the creek but they forgot one important thing – the cows up creek dropping patties.” CUPE 5523 president and Coldstream council candidate John Hegler offers the incumbent council some lessons in agroenvironmentalism before the Nov. 19 vote. Vernon Morning Star, Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
“The symbolism is real and powerful. What do all women have? Shoes.” CUPE 900 member Lynn Chassé, winner of the 2011 Grace Hartmann award at CUPE’s National convention, on her campaign to collect shoes for women’s shelters as part of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Chassé’s mother was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Kamloops Daily News, Monday, November 7, 2011.
“Our members, most of them live in the community and work in the community and have a vested interest in making sure that our community is a safe one.” CUPE 454 president Darryl Robison says the Halloween Patrol, initiated by a CUPE member, integrates well with the City Watch program and the Corporation of Delta in protecting municipal facilities and parks during Halloween. The Delta Optimist, Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
“That’s just another way to support your own local economy and own community.” CUPE 873 regional vice president Richard Vollo, a candidate for Williams Lake city council, promotes the Ten Per Cent Shift, which encourages residents to make 10 per cent of their monthly purchases from local businesses. Williams Lake Tribune, Thursday, October 13, 2011. MO RE ON L I N E
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FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED Council of Canadians leader Maude Barlow told a packed house in Abbotsford that, once Canadians find out what is in CETA, they quickly become opposed to it.
CUPE, BARLOW TOUR DRAWS CROWDS
Hard facts about CETA Abbotsford, Vancouver and Victoria, the message of the “Canadian Communities are Not for Sale” tour was clear: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union will have dire consequences for public services. Tour speakers were CUPE National president Paul Moist, CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill and Council of Canadians leader Maude Barlow. Every stop heard from local speakers as well, including Women and Health Protection spokesperson Colleen Fuller, Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford spokesperson Lynn Perrin and Victoria city councilor Marianne Alto. The standing-room only crowds heard about the dangers of the CETA and how it affects the ability of communities to maintain public services including water. Panelists also raised concerns about CETA being negotiated behind closed doors. The unprecedented deal will further open public services like water and healthcare to foreign corporations. At the same time, local governments will lose their ability to purchase locally and to set regulations that impact the so-called corporate “right to make profit.” Of her western Canada tour, Barlow said “awareness of this dangerous trade deal has been growing. When Canadians find out what is in CETA, they quickly become opposed. Many municipalities have now passed resolutions demanding to know more about the CETA threat and that water services be exempt.” Moist and O’Neill called the deal an attack on public services unlike any other, one that targets all levels of government, crown corporations, public transit, airlines, health and social services.
CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n members on the front line A TIMELY HEADS-UP FOR KOOTENAY SCHOOLS T R AIL | CUPE’s attendance at a board of education meeting here has highlighted the importance of the union’s school board watch program. At its October meeting, the Kootenay-Columbia Board of Education dealt with an emergent request for its support of a grant to investigate a MACLEOD major shift in how time-tabling and education would be offered at a high school threatened with closure. The request was not contained in the published agenda and neither CUPE nor the teacher’s union had been consulted. “The board made a motion in support of the grant application to a concept plan for education that could radically alter how education services are delivered,” said CUPE 1285 president Cherryl MacLeod, who sought clarification of the plan at the board’s December 5 meeting. “Change isn’t necessarily bad, but this is about building relationships,” she said. “The trustees make decisions that affect our working lives. It’s harder for them to affect us negatively when they know who we are and what we do.”
CUPE BC salutes local government VANC OU V E R | CUPE BC executive board
members and CUPE staffers attended the Union of BC Municipalities convention in late September to observe the proceedings and meet with local government officials from all over B.C. Once again, CUPE BC’s reception for UBCM delegates was one of the most popular events on the convention agenda.
BIG PLANS Members of CUPE BC’s young workers task force take a break from proceedings during the union’s One Big Committee Meeting in Richmond, October 6-7.
Committees get down to business Biennial meeting features packed agenda for activists Committee Meeting (OBCM) in the fall, which brought together new and returning members of CUPE BC committees, drew more than 150 delegates and covered a packed agenda over three days. The OBCM is held every two years after executive board elections at Convention. Each committee spends time reviewing the work of the previous two years and mapping out its work over the next two years. This year’s meeting was held from October 5-7 in Richmond.
“CUPE BC committees are vital to the work of the executive board and how we go about implementing the direction our members determine at Convention,” said CUPE BC secretarytreasurer Mark Hancock. “The hard work and dedication of committee members is inspiring, and on behalf of all CUPE members in B.C., I want to thank them for stepping up to keep our union strong. “The logistics of bringing all our committee members together for one big meeting are challenging, but it’s important that all our committees and working groups are on the same page as we put our plans into action.”
CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill thanked delegates for “standing up for your communities. Even when our organization disagrees with you, we always respect you for stepping up to public life.” He said that trade agreements like CETA continue to reduce the ability of local governments to protect and improve the public services that make communities strong.
HUB CITY TRIO Nanaimo councilor Fred Pattje and Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog join Lantzville resident Barry O’Neill at CUPE BC’s September 28 reception.
R I C H M O N D | CUPE BC’s One Big
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EARLY CARE, LEARNING PLAN GETS THUMBS UP BUR NABY | CUPE BC hopes to help shape
the province’s future by endorsing a plan designed to help improve early care and learning.
STOP THE CUTS CUPE 4601’s Don Fodor (left) and CUPE 4775’s Dale Deal (right), along with the Hospital Employees’ Union’s David Huespe, leaflet the CLBC’s Vancouver head office.
Activists stand up for community living Series of rallies to target CLBC cuts BU R NABY | Strengthened by wide-
spread negative media coverage of service cuts by Community Living BC – and by the subsequent firing of its CEO and a provincial cabinet shuffle – CUPE members in community social services have joined other activists in ramping up a campaign to defend crucial services for persons with disabilities. In December, the Stop the Cuts coalition began a monthly series of Sunday morning rallies to raise awareness about the issue. They also set up a Facebook page and an online petition aimed at
Job creation service fights to stay open VANC OU V E R | Thanks to a short-sighted
business model of the BC Liberals, a valuable service that provides job training, employment opportunities and communication resources for people living in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) may soon be forced to close its doors. In April, the Ministry of Social Development will cut funding for two programs of the Tradeworks Training Society – Pathways Information Centre and The Job Shop – as a result of the 6
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restoring full funding. The first rally was held on December 11 in New Westminster. Future rallies were scheduled for Surrey on January 15, Burnaby on February 12, and Coquitlam on March 11. Those interested in attending should RSVP clbcfailspwd@hotmail. com. (For more details, visit the CUPE BC website’s Action Centre.) Meanwhile, on the bargaining front, CUPE members in community social services who only recently ratified their last retroactive contract participated in a bargaining priorities survey being prepared for the next round. The results were expected to see monetary improvements, including wage increases, top the list.
ministry’s Business Transformation Project (BTP), a new “rationalization” of employment services. Pathways has been providing information, referrals and employment services to DTES residents since 2003. The Job Shop is a 10-week return to work program that offers daily job search support. The programs represent 10 CUPE 193604 bargaining unit positions. ACTION: write to Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: firstname.lastname@example.org and Honourable Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Social Development for the Province of British Columbia: email@example.com.
The Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning, conceived by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC, has also been endorsed by other unions, education partners and civic governments. Under the plan, control of child care would move from the Ministry of Children and Family Development to the Ministry of Education – a shift that would give CUPE more of LANIER a say in child care decision-making, on top of the potential for additional work hours, earnings and new positions for CUPE members. The plan, once implemented, would cost families $10 a day for a full-time program and $7 a day for part-time. It would be free for families with annual incomes under $40,000. CUPE BC’s child care working group chair Michael Lanier encourages members to find out more about the plan and endorse it online. MO R E O NL I NE www.cccabc.bc.ca/plan
VITAL SERVICE Pathways member Doug Elliott (centre) and CUPE 193604 member Tony St.-Pierre (right), an employment counsellor and case manager, in the Pathways Information Centre computer room. More than 200 Downtown Eastside residents a day use Pathways’ services to help them seek or find employment.
CUPE CUP E focus national convention
HONOURING THE PAST, BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE UNCOMMON GRACE
Delegates elect new secretarytreasurer, set “Strategic Directions”
CUPE 900 member Lynn Chassé, a payroll clerk for the municipality of Kamloops, is presented with the Grace Hartman Award by CUPE National president Paul Moist. K.J. Klontz, chair of CUPE 900’s Education Committee, holds the symbolic red shoes.
VANC OU V E R | CUPE’s 25th biennial national convention
(October 31-November 4), held in B.C. for the first time in ten years, brought the union full circle in a number of ways. For the retiring Claude Généreux, the event brought an end to his productive, decade-long career as CUPE’s National secretary-treasurer – a period that began with his election in Vancouver in 2001. His successor, Charles Fleury, inherits a financially healthy union whose defense fund passed the $50 million mark in 2011. For most delegates, this convention was a time to take stock of campaigns defending public services and fighting public-private partnerships that have consumed much of the union’s energy and resources over the past decade. Despite many challenges under the Chrétien/Martin Liberals, delegates agreed that their activism has become all the more urgent under the right-wing Harper Conservatives.
A blueprint for the future The “Strategic Directions” document passed at convention maps out CUPE’s plan to tackle growing inequality and Harper’s attack on working people. The focus is on strengthening connections and building capacity within CUPE and in the labour movement at large – the first priority being to reach CUPE members. Guest speakers at convention pointed the way toward more democratic economies that work for everyone. These included former UN HIV/AIDS special envoy Stephen Lewis, interim federal NDP leader Nycole Turmel, Haitian labour leader Dukens Raphael, Wisconsin activist Candice Owley, and Burmese activists Aung Naing Soe and Mi Aie Son. NDP MP Olivia Chow, also in attendance, was visibly moved by a video tribute to her late husband, NDP leader Jack Layton. This year’s convention rally supported the aims of the global “Occupy” movement in calling for more democratic econo-
mies. The rally, staged outside the convention centre near CUPE BC’s new community trailer, was hosted by CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill and featured several speakers. CUPE 1936 vice-president Sheryl Burns gave a passionate speech about the plight of CUPE’s community social services workers, many of whom are forced by low wages to visit food banks.
Local heroes Convention was also a time to honour CUPE members who have done extraordinary things. This year’s winner of the Grace Hartman Award, presented for activism in the struggle for women’s rights, equality and social justice, went to a B.C. member, CUPE 900’s Lynn Chassé. A payroll clerk for the City of Kamloops, Chassé is the driving force behind the annual Shoe Memorial held every year on December 6. Chassé, whose mother was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2000, has collected more than 1,000 pairs of shoes – each pair representing a woman who has been killed. The shoes are donated to women’s shelters as part of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Another Kamloops-based CUPE member, Bill Ferguson, received a standing ovation from delegates when he was introduced as an activist whose service to the labour movement spans 60 years. Ferguson attended CUPE’s founding convention in 1963. MO R E O NL I NE
cupe.ca/cupe-national-convention WINTER 2012
linking labour robin jones
“The Quebec experience proves that there is strength in coordinated bargaining. It’s the right way to go.”
Conference points the way back to free collective bargaining CUPE’s Provincial Bargaining Strategies Conference (January 31 – February 3) comes at a crucial time for the B.C. region of CUPE – and for the B.C. labour movement at large. As the first provincial bargaining conference in three years, this one will open amidst a far gloomier labour relations climate than the last one did. Due to the current state of the economy, and the restrictive provincial government mandates, we no longer have free and fair collective bargaining in this province. So the conference presents an opportunity for us to develop strategies that will help restore the free and fair collective bargaining that is our right. With no change in provincial government on the immediate horizon, it’s clear that we will need a much more united public sector to achieve this ambitious goal. So it’s our hope that the conference will mark the beginning of a new – and very different – phase of collective bargaining in B.C. And that means strengthening solidarity, not only in our own union but right across the public sector. At the bargaining conference, we will identify a small number of priorities that will help us develop a CUPE bargaining agenda. Our objectives include developing a public campaign to create support for public services, identifying cross-union bargaining objectives and priorities, creating a mobilization plan and a solidarity pact with all B.C. unions, and initiating “common front” bargaining with the provincial government. I’ve talked about this “common front” before, most recently in the Spring 2011 issue of Public Employee. Two years ago in Quebec, multiple unions and labour federations negotiated directly with the Treasury Board for over 475,000 public sector workers in an integrated common table. As a result, the Quebec Common Front achieved solid
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SHE’LL BE MISSED Robin Jones and assistant regional director Anne Coupland review details for the bargaining conference. Sister Coupland retires on February 1 after more than 30 years on CUPE staff. (See story, p. 12.)
agreements for these members. We need to learn from this example. Developing a common front approach with our sister unions doesn’t mean we won’t be facing an uphill battle. But the Quebec experience proves that there is strength in coordinated bargaining. It’s the right way to go. In fact, CUPE has already begun working with other unions in the province to increase coordinated bargaining in 2012 and build our efforts through to 2015. But we need to do more. Clearly, we cannot keep settling for zero mandates and we won’t – plain and simple. It is time to bring back free collective bargaining in this province, and to that end we need to turn our minds to actions that will create a mobilization plan and a solidarity pact in B.C. These ambitious objectives will require time and effort on behalf of all public sector unions. But whatever happens, CUPE is committed to doing better for our members. So we’ll be using this bargaining conference to draw up a road map that helps us get there. If, as union members across the public sector, we can get on board and embrace this bold new goal of a B.C. Common Front, we should have a much brighter future that includes “fair and free” being restored in B.C. Robin Jones is director for CUPE’s British Columbia region.
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CUPE CUP E focus bargaining
K-12 DEAL OFFERS REAL GAINS FOR ALL MEMBERS New funding, resources a good sign for all sectors BU R NABY | A tentative Provincial Framework Agreement
between the BC Public Schools Employers’ Association and the 26,000 school support staff represented by CUPE has renewed optimism across the public sector that real gains can be made at the bargaining table despite the BC Liberal government’s “net zero” wage mandate. The retroactive agreement, reached on December 15, includes significant new funding and resources for K-12 CUPE members. “The agreement will benefit all members as it promotes a skills enhancement agenda, enshrines a stable bargaining environment, and delivers a deal with no concessions,” says CUPE’s K-12 coordinator, Bill Pegler. The retroactive agreement – termed from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012 – includes $7.5 million in new and ongoing funding for education assistants (see sidebar), $550,000 in new funding for the Support Staff Education and Adjustment Committee for skills enhancement, and a commitment to solidify a framework for provincial bargaining – a key goal of CUPE since 1999. It also provides new access to CUPE for sector demographic and classification information for research purposes, and a wage reopener clause in the event that the public sector wage mandate changes over the life of the government. The agreement has renewed optimism across the education sectors. Like their sisters and brothers in K-12, CUPE locals in the university and colleges sectors have been working hard on behalf of their members to achieve new collective agreements. The terms of the K-12 deal are thus
DEAL GIVES EDUCATION ASSISTANTS SOME LONG OVERDUE RECOGNITION B U R NABY | Under the tentative Provincial Framework Agreement with the BC Public Schools Employers’ Association, CUPE members working as education assistants (EAs) have gained new respect for their place in the K-12 system. Among other changes, the $7.5 million in new, ongoing funding recognizes and corrects unpaid work for EAs – to the
UNITED FRONT In October, Michelle Waite (left), chair of the CUPE Colleges Bargaining Council, and Colleen Garbe (right), co-chair of the Universities Coordinated Bargaining Committee, attended CUPE’s K-12 Presidents’ Council with its chair, Terry Allen, to ensure CUPE’s public education sector is sharing bargaining strategies, information, and progress reports.
encouraging for everyone. “While the agreement adheres to the government’s net zero mandate,” notes Pegler, “it does include a commitment to continue with provincial bargaining into the future. Given what we’ve been through in recent years, this is a significant development.” Throughout the bargaining process, CUPE worked closely with the BC Teachers’ Federation to keep them informed of our progress and strategy. CUPE fully supports the BCTF’s phase 1 job action and will continue to work together for the benefit of public education and our members.
tune of about 45 minutes of extra paid time per week for each eligible education assistant. Funding starts in September 2012 and continues each year thereafter. “CUPE’s consistent advocacy to have the unpaid work of EAs recognized has led to an agreement that will provide several million dollars more in services to students and compensation for CUPE members,” says CUPE K-12 coordinator Bill Pegler. “This agreement represents meaningful gains for these members.” The K-12 support staff unions have been raising concerns about the issues of
unpaid EA work, lack of stable EA hours, scheduling, and lack of livable wages since 2006. Addressing these concerns has been a key bargaining priority for CUPE. The changes will allow EAs and teachers to continue and enhance their efforts to work collaboratively to support children with special needs and other students in the school system. For more information on the role of EAs and their working conditions, see CUPE’s 2008 report Recognition and Respect (available at www.cupe.bc.ca under “Reports and Research”).
CUPE BC’s latest member-to-member campaign plays key role in 2011 community elections
LOCAL ELECTIONS RESULT IN PROGRESSIVE GAINS Whether it was CUPE members running for election, or CUPE members talking to fellow members about the importance of voting, CUPE BC’s local elections campaign was taken to a new level in November. BURNABY |
YOUNG BLOOD CUPE 15 president Paul Faoro celebrates election night victory with Vision Vancouver’s youngest winner, 22-year-old park board commissionerelect Trevor Loke.
ON THE COVER Barry O’Neill addresses crowd at the November 1 rally during National convention. The event featured the launch of CUPE BC’s new community trailer.
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Building on a successful 2008 civic elections campaign, CUPE BC made 30 per cent more phone calls to members, leading in part to a higher voter turnout and the election (or reelection) of progressive candidates all across the province. Vancouver’s local elections saw the re-election of the Vision Vancouver government of Mayor Gregor Robertson, while Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and his Burnaby Civic Association slate were handily re-elected as well. In all, more than 200 CUPE-endorsed candidates were elected in the November 19 elections. In Vancouver, every Vision Vancouver candidate for mayor, council, school board and park board was elected. CUPE 15 president and CUPE BC political action committee chair Paul Faoro believes the votes of CUPE members made a difference – and not just in Vancouver. “It was great to see the energy and enthusiasm of CUPE members working on this campaign,” said Faoro. “And the results are testament to the importance of our union participating in politics. Whether it was making countless calls in phone banks to get the vote out on election day, or helping stuff countless thousands of letters
PROGRESSIVE CITY Newly-elected Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Niki Sharma chats with CUPE 391 president Alexandra Youngberg at the City of Vancouver swearing in ceremony on December 5.
to members all across the province, our work made a difference.”
Preparation and planning the key CUPE BC’s work on the elections started months before the campaign itself. In June, the union invited activists from all over the province to its Political Action Conference, held in Richmond. More than 150 CUPE members participated in workshops aimed at getting activists, both new and experienced, ready for the November campaign. “CUPE members understand as well as anyone the link between local elections and strong communities,” said CUPE BC political action coordinator Keith Reynolds. “It was a great experience to see so many members come out to participate in our central efforts, as well as the many CUPE members who volunteered directly on campaigns in their own communities.” CUPE staff and activists collectively made more than 16,000 phone calls to CUPE members, encouraging them to vote for candidates endorsed by CUPE locals. Nearly 48,000 poll cards, which listed endorsed candidates, were
ALWAYS PREPARED Members of CUPE BC’s Political Action committee discussed strategies and resources required for the community elections several months in advance of the November 19 vote.
mailed to CUPE members, and an additional 20,000 letters were sent to members in communities, urging them to vote for progressive candidates. “We deliberately took a more aggressive approach in this round of local elections,” said CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock. “Obviously every vote counts in any election, but we’ve seen declining participation in elections at all levels of government in recent years, and we wanted to do our part to try to reverse that trend.” While the results in the larger municipalities got most of the media coverage, added Hancock, CUPE’s efforts also helped elect progressive candidates all over B.C. And in Abbotsford (see sidebar), we were able to help convince residents that the now former Mayor’s plan to privatize drinking water was a bad idea. “Not only did they overwhelmingly vote ‘no’ on the referendum,” he said, “they tossed the incumbent mayor out of office! I don’t think too many pundits saw that coming, and it’s another great example of what can be accomplished when we as union members dedicate ourselves to political action in our communities.”
SHARING IDEAS CUPE’s access to city hall has improved under Vision Vancouver. CUPE 1004 president Mike Jackson talks with Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs and Mayor Gregor Robertson at a pre-election fundraising event in November.
CONNECTING THE DOTS Public meetings, such as this well-attended presentation on the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) featuring Maude Barlow and Paul Moist, were a key factor in building public awareness about the value of public water and achieving a “No” vote for the Stave Lake P3.
WATER WATCH CAMPAIGN SINKS P3 WATER PROJECT — AND A MAYOR ABBOTS F OR D | When the residents of Abbotsford saw attempts to
privatize their drinking water, CUPE activists rose to the challenge— taking on a leading role with a public awareness campaign that ultimately sunk the P3 at the ballot box. On November 19, Abbotsford residents voted in a referendum on the Stave Lake P3 Water Project. An overwhelming amount of voters (74 per cent) rejected the P3 deal that would have locked residents into a 30-year contract with an unnamed private partner. Residents also voted to sink their former mayor, George Peary, an outspoken P3 supporter. His $291 million pet project would have been the largest privately financed undertaking in the water sector in Canada to date. CUPE 1267 and CUPE 774, supported by a few other CUPE locals, together with Water Watch MissionAbbotsford members, spent countless hours getting the ‘vote no’ message out, sharSWEET SUCCESS The message on a ing the pitfalls of the privatizacake prepared to celebrate the referendum tion of water services with their result in Abbotsford said it all. community. Mission said no to the same P3 deal in April. “This was a big win for the whole city of Abbotsford and our members are really proud to have been a part of the campaign,” said Murray Jones, president of CUPE 774. While water P3s won’t be coming to Abbotsford and Mission (or Port Alberni – see page 3), other communities continue to face similar P3 threats. Public Private Partnerships Canada currently has two dozen more P3 water and wastewater applications under review. We must continue the fight to keep water in public hands. MO R E O NL I NE
at www.cupe.bc.ca/campaigns/water-watch WINTER 2012
CUPE CUP E communities
STREET SMARTS CUPE’s tent at this year’s Word on the Street festival featured readings from local authors Derrick O’Keefe (far left), Daniel Gawthrop (third from right), and Charles Demers (not pictured). Also present, from second left, were CUPE 391 president Alexandra Youngberg, local member at large Jane Curry, Vancouver library board member Carellin Brooks, local member at large Laurin Shadforth, and Vancouver library board member Kyla Epstein.
A PROUD HISTORY CUPE 1004 past president Dave Long (1980-1994) cuts the cake at the culmination of the Vancouver local’s 100-year celebrations in October.
HELPING HAND From left, CUPE 339 president Rocco Mastrobuono and members Wynn Segstro, Don Lauriente, Peter Steffler, and Charles Mackinnon take a break from the landscaping work for Foundation House.
Union all heart in CT scanner bid N E L S O N | Members of CUPE 339
(Nelson Civic) donated their time, expertise and – no less important – money to help get a much-needed CT scanner in Nelson. “The CT scanner is a vital piece of diagnostic equipment that a rural area like Nelson needs. The next closest CT scanner is 100 kilometres away,” said CUPE 339 president Rocco Mastrobuono. “This very important piece of equipment will really help our community.” The Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation began a campaign to raise $1.5 million for the scanner a year and a half
ago. The most ambitious part of the campaign was Foundation House – a residence built entirely with community donations. CUPE 339 donated $1,000 in cash and handled the landscaping for Foundation House. The new owners of the most environmentally green house in Nelson paid the full listing price and profits from the sale went towards purchasing the scanner. The new CT scanner arrived at Kootenay Lake Hospital at the end of September and was up and running by the beginning of December.
She’s done it all It’s a long way from rank and file membership in B.C. to the number two CUPE staff job in the province, and Anne Coupland is the only woman to have made the journey. After working in the Burnaby school system as a CUPE 379 member, Anne was hired by CUPE on March 13, 1981 as a clerical support person in the B.C. region12
THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE
al office. Sixteen years later, she pal bargaining. signed up for one of CUPE’s In June 2007, Anne became first rep trainee programs and assistant regional director for was hired as a servicing rep in CUPE in B.C., first working with the fall of 1997. Before long, Donn Stanley and since 2009 she was coordinator for librarwith Robin Jones. On February ies and municipalities, sat on 1, she is retiring. CUPE BC and various CUPE BC committees, Brother Jones want to thank COUPLAND and served as chief spokesperson Sister Coupland for more than for Lower Mainland municipal locals durthree decades of exemplary service, and ing a tough couple of rounds of municiwe wish her a happy retirement.
CUPE CUP E communities members making a difference
VIDC’S DONATION SEASON VIC T OR IA | As 2011 drew to a close, the
Vancouver Island District Council and its members reached out to communities locally, provincially and internationally. On December 6, the VIDC joined with other Greater Victoria area unions by donating $400 to local women’s organizations, in recognition of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On the local front, the Council donated $200 to the ‘Socks for Kids Campaign’. Hundreds of pairs of socks were donated, including 132 pairs collected in two days from members of CUPE 2045. The VIDC also supported the United Way Campaign with a $600 donation and endorsed a call to support the Victoria-based Prostitute Education and Empowerment Resource Society (PEERS) by asking locals to make donations of small, wrapped gifts for the children of sex trade workers. The VIDC announced it would hold a community fund raiser at each of its four meetings annually.
CHANGEMAKERS CUPE members and staff attended the annual labour breakfast to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6. At this year’s event, held on the 22nd anniversary of the 1989 Montreal Massacre, activists called on the B.C. government to restore services for vulnerable women and urged everyone present to lobby their MP to vote in favour of preserving the long gun registry.
INDUSTRY LEADERS Members of CUPE 498 (Port Coquitlam Civic) pose after winning the UBCM’s Best Practices – Leadership and Innovation Award for the local’s waste reduction efforts.
CUPE innovators in waste reduction Port Moody, PoCo locals awarded for their efforts Two Lower Mainland CUPE locals were recognized in the Fall for leading the way on solid waste reduction. In Port Moody, the return to inhouse waste collection won the City a 2011 Solid Waste Association of North America Award of Excellence. The award recognizes outstanding solid waste reduction programs, in this case for communications. The City credited CUPE 825 frontline staff and collection truck drivers as “recycling ambassadors” for getting the word out. The city’s previous diversion rate (the percentage of recycled or composted
waste), hovered around 40 per cent for decades. But within six months of the return to public collection, the tally climbed above 60 per cent – 75 per cent by mid-summer. In Port Coquitlam, CUPE 498’s inhouse waste collection has garnered a Best Practices – Leadership & Innovation Award for large urban municipalities. The award was presented at the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention. Local 498 workers became industry leaders in 2008 by collecting vegetable and food scraps, followed by all-food scraps/food soiled papers in 2009. Last year, they began alternate-week collection and this year food scrap collection from multi-family homes.
METIS WEEK Members of CUPE 2262 (Castlegar civic workers), along with Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, councillor Gord Turner, fire chief Gerry Rempel, and members of the Metis community attended a mid-November ceremony to raise the Metis flag at City Hall. WINTER 2012
power in numbers mark hancock
“By ‘becoming the change we believe in,’ we are making a difference in our workplaces and our communities.”
Thanks to you, our efforts are paying off Sometimes it’s hard to be an activist. Every time you wake up in the morning, you face another day of fighting against unjust working conditions, an employer who doesn’t know the meaning of “fairness,” provincial and federal governments hell bent on privatizing everything in sight, mainstream media beholden to the same corporate interests as those governments, and a global capitalist system that can destroy a local economy with the slightest twitch of the stock market. Despite all this, we keep on fighting. As CUPE members, we know that nothing’s going to change in this world if we just stay put and let them get away with it. So we “become the change we believe in,” as Gandhi once put it: we get up and go to work, talk to our co-workers, subscribe to Facebook groups and Tweet the latest news. We attend meetings, form coalitions, sign petitions, and vote. We donate to worthy causes, help the needy, and support the Ten Per Cent Shift. And guess what? We are making a difference. Anywhere you choose to go in this province, you’ll also find evidence that the work we’re doing to keep our communities strong is inspiring others to do the same. In 2011, nonunion residents of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island defended public water and rejected P3s for their communities. In the Okanagan, local businesses and non-affiliated citizens worked together, with our support, to make sure that their new rec centre stayed public. Back at the B.C. division office in Burnaby, our phone rang off the hook with calls from chambers of commerce wanting to find out more about “local first” programs.
EAST MEETS WEST CUPE BC’s executive endorsed the candidacy of general vice-president Charles Fleury from Quebec (seen here with Mark Hancock at the 2009 convention in Montreal), and congratulates him on his election as the new CUPE National secretary-treasurer.
Even non-profit groups have stepped up their fundraising efforts after seeing the energy and commitment of our members in their Locals’ support of things like food banks, women’s shelters, and minor hockey. And every time we make new friends – inside or outside of the labour movement – we always hear the same refrain: “CUPE rocks!” And we do, Sisters and Brothers. So as we begin this New Year, let’s take a moment to feel good about ourselves and the amazing work we do in our communities. Another place we’ve made a difference is at the ballot box. In the recent community elections, we helped elect progressive candidates throughout B.C. while contributing to the referendum defeat of the water P3 in Abbotsford. I would like to congratulate all the CUPE members who were elected to office on November 19 and thank all the members who put themselves out there as candidates, as well as those who worked on campaigns. Your commitment to strong communities is what keeps the rest of us going. Mark Hancock is secretary-treasurer of CUPE BC.
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Social media for the social activist. Like. Follow. Connect. Engage. During the recent lockout of CUPE 3338-5 members at Simon Fraser University, the posts on CUPE’s anti-lockout Facebook page were viewed more than 217,000 times. That page became one of the primary tools CUPE used to communicate with our supporters and drive the campaign to end the lockout. It helped us get our message out, organize support, and engage the community.
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Like our new Facebook page and follow our various Twitter accounts to connect with other activists, stay up to date on issues affecting key sectors, and help spread the word about major CUPE campaigns.
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