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FALL 2012

How we’re making a difference on the job

G N I K THINSIDE OUT BOOK THE orkers adapt ce la w p y k r r a o r Lib ng w i g n a h to a c






leading us barry o’neill


“It takes political will and hard work by activists to make these changes a reality, but the reward is significant.”

“Blue Communities” the wave of the future hether it’s fighting off a P3 drinking water project in Abbotsford or promoting local economies through the Ten Percent Shift campaign, CUPE BC and our members continue to show that we can make a real difference through activism. One of our latest successes came in June when Nanaimo’s city council voted to become a “Blue Community.” With the vote, Nanaimo became British Columbia’s fourth Blue Community. In doing so, the community sent a strong message that water is a valuable public asset that must be protected. Through CUPE’s ongoing involvement in the Blue Community movement and Water Watch campaigns, we are helping to promote and maintain public control over water resources and services. To become a Blue Community, a municipality must do three things. First, it must recognize water as a human right; second, it must ban the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events; third, it must commit to promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services. It takes political will and hard work by activists to make these changes a reality, but the reward is significant. The win for public services in Nanaimo didn’t happen overnight, though. It took dedication and advocacy from CUPE BC and our local unions. The initial package of resolutions was brought to council in March, but council members had questions and asked staff to prepare a report on the financial and policy implications. We didn’t let the delay deter us or allow the issue to fall off the map. CUPE kept the issue in the foreground and on the agenda. In June, I attended city council and spoke directly with the counsellors, answering their questions, and showing them the public good that comes from being a Blue Community. My presentation focused on how Nanaimo



PERFECT HARMONY Barry O’Neill and Mark Hancock pose with members of Chilliwack following the legendary rock group’s appearance at the annual Labour Day picnic on September 3. During the CUPE BC-sponsored performance, band leader Bill Henderson (second from left) shared several pro-worker messages in support of strong communities.

had the chance to show real leadership and pave the way for other communities across B.C. and Canada. Two weeks after that presentation, Nanaimo became a Blue Community. As a long-time resident of the area, I am so proud that CUPE BC, working with Nanaimo’s elected officials, brought positive change to our community. Shortly after this victory, the momentum continued to build in July when Cumberland, also on Vancouver Island, voted to join the growing list of Blue Communities in B.C. – a list that includes Burnaby, Victoria, and North Vancouver. To keep that number growing, we need CUPE activists in other municipalities to take up the cause. A great place to start is CUPE BC’s upcoming anti-privatization conference, “Positively Public – Our communities are NOT for sale” in November. The keynote speaker for that event will be Shelly Carroll. Shelly is a Toronto city councillor who is particularly knowledgeable on privatization and core reviews, so her address should be very enlightening. Advocacy works! For more information on the Blue Communities initiative, a joint venture between the Council of Canadians and CUPE, visit Barry O’Neill is president of CUPE BC. + News + Commentary + Leaders’ voices


CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n members on the front line UNIVERSITIES BEGIN JOB ACTION After more than two years of waiting to talk the talk, B.C.’s universities sector is ready to walk the walk. Strike mandates are in place at UVic, UBC, UNBC and TRU (SFU was voting at press time). The main issues for CUPE’s 12,000 university support and teaching staff remain job security, inflation protection, and fair and reasonable wages. Clouding the bargaining climate is a provincial government that vowed to chop $70 million from post-secondary budgets while insisting on no wage increases for 2010-11 and ‘Savings Plan’ approval for 2012-13. First out have been CUPE locals 917 and 951 at UVic, which launched job action on September 5. More locals were expected to follow.

ATTENTIVE AUDIENCE Barry O’Neill’s presentation on the Ten Percent Shift attracted a large crowd in Quesnel on July 19.

Ramping up the Ten Percent Shift Local first campaign bags award, gains traction in B.C. and across Canada BUR NABY | CUPE BC’s Ten Percent

ON THE LINE Members of UVic’s CUPE locals participated in the first job action on September 5. At press time, UVic and CUPE had scheduled more bargaining talks.

Shift campaign to support local economies and businesses has come a long way since it was “soft launched” last year, with an endorsement from Vancouver city council, an international communications award for, and almost daily requests for presentations in communities all over the province. CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill has now delivered the Shift presentation to dozens of organizations and community forums in B.C., as well as in almost

every other province. This fall, plans were shaping up for a Shift tour of the Kootenays in October, followed by presentations on Vancouver Island and in Powell River. “We are also in discussions to put together a ‘local economies summit’ meeting in 2013 that would bring together local first activists from all over North America,” says O’Neill. Meanwhile, the Ten Percent Shift campaign recently picked up a bronze medal for best community website at the 2012 Summit Creative Awards, a prestigious international competition. To see the award-winning site – and take the Ten Percent Shift pledge – check out

Rhonda Spence named B.C.’s assistant regional director


B UR N A B Y | Rhonda Spence is CUPE’s new assistant regional director for B.C., replacing Rob Hewitt who has returned to his servicing assignment in Kelowna. Spence first joined CUPE in 1983. She spent ten years on the CUPE BC executive before being hired on staff in 1994, and worked on a number of temporary posts before her first permanent assignment with the airline division.

As well as union development and various servicing assignments, Spence helped develop CUPE BC’s direct member contact campaigns while sitting on the Strong Communities working group. Also known for her global justice work, she served as staff advisor to CUPE National’s Global Justice committee and spent nearly four years as CUPE’s senior officer for international solidarity. She was also president of CoDevelopment Canada. FALL 2012


CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n

VOICES “Way back then Prince George CUPE workers were the lowest paid in all of Canada. The fight for equality for women back in those days was a tough fight but we did it. We never had a strike under my leadership.” Retired former CUPE 399 president Rino Fornari, 85, reflects on the 15 years he spent negotiating for better wages and working conditions, superannuation and equality for female employees of the City of Prince George. Prince George Citizen, Tuesday, August 21, 2012.

“Our activities would greatly contribute to the generation of much-needed funds, both through decrease in fare evasion and through collection of fine revenue.” CUPE 4500 president Rob Woods says that Translink should allow Lower Mainland transit supervisors to hand out fare evasion tickets. 24 Hours Vancouver, Thursday, June 7, 2012.

“We soon realized that almost every member had in one way or another been impacted with a loved one, friend or someone they know facing breast cancer. It was a unanimous decision.” CUPE 2090 president Mike Capuano comments on why municipal workers in the City of Cranbrook contributed $1,000 to support the A Clear View campaign. The Valley (East Kootenay), Thursday, July 19, 2012.

“And this is a volunteer job supposedly, community service, and a third of your salary is tax free. It’s very, very hard to see this.” CUPE 3500 president John Hall comments on a suggested raise of 8.6 per cent for trustees, 7.7 per cent for the vice-chair and 7.5 per cent for the chair of the District 73 school board while school support staff take two years of zeroes. Kamloops Daily News, Tuesday, July 10, 2012.

“Building a strong healthy community is important to our members. We are excited to provide this opportunity for families, especially for those less fortunate.” CUPE 556 president Cindy Major, on the municipal workers union’s decision to mark Communities Day on June 23 by sponsoring a free family swim at the Comox Valley Aquatic Centre. Comox Valley Echo, Friday, June 22, 2012. + News + Commentary + Members’ voices




HEART AND SOUL Community social services workers from CUPE and its sister unions held a rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery on September 13. Speakers called on the BC Liberals to stop putting the squeeze on the CSS workers, and to restore funding to the sector.

CSS rally a call for justice Public sector’s lowest paid workers slam BC Liberals, prepare for job action VANC OUVER | After eleven long years of BC Liberal attacks on their sector, the province’s community social services workers – including 2,500 CUPE members – have served notice this fall that they’re mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore. With an overwhelming strike mandate across the sector, CSS workers held a large rally at Vancouver Art Gallery on September 13. Speakers called on the Christy Clark government to stop putting the squeeze on workers and instead put badly-needed resources back into a sector that is suffering from underfunding, cutbacks, and program closures. “In the past decade, the BC Liberals have taken millions of dollars out of this sector – cutting programs, closing group homes, and allowing wait lists to grow at an alarming rate,” CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock said, in his opening remarks.“Enough is enough. It’s time to protect and improve the services we all rely on in times of need, especially our most vulnerable community members.” During this round of bargaining, the Community Social Services Bargaining Association – comprised of the BCGEU, CUPE, HEU, HSA and six other unions – is seeking a fair and reasonable settlement to improve working conditions and the services that CSS workers provide. These include care and support for women escaping abusive relationships, adults with developmental disabilities, immigrant families, youth at risk, infant development, and more.

CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n members on the front line

CUPE members face core service reviews Prince George spends $350K for consultants’ report An increasing number of B.C. municipalities are facing “core service reviews” as local governments push for outside consulting firms to evaluate municipal services. Prince George recently commissioned the consulting firm KPMG to conduct such a review with a price tag of nearly $350,000. The City of Vernon, the City of Oliver and the City of Victoria have also all recently announced their intent to hire consultants to do the same type of review. These reviews are often just a disguise for service cutting and privatization of services. However, locals with active Council Watch committees are sometimes able to detect early warning signs that their municipality might be considering a core services review. CUPE members are encouraged to contact CUPE BC privatization coordinator Zoe Magnus, at, if their community is facing such a possibility.


CUPE 873 honours NDP’s Farnworth C OQU IT L AM | The Ambulance

Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873) honoured NDP MLA Mike Farnworth and another local resident during the summer for their timely intervention that helped save the life of a heart attack victim in February.

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE CUPE 873 paramedics Chris Naples and Kevin Lambert administer to a ‘victim’ during the rescue competition in the Czech Republic in June.

B.C. paramedics win silver medal at international rescue competition R IC HM OND | A team of B.C. para-

medics took on the world and nearly won the gold medal at the annual Rallye Rejviz International Medical Rescue Competition, held in the Czech Republic in early June. The Lower Mainland-based paramedics – Chris Naples, Kevin Lambert and Rico Ruffy – were accompanied by three veterans of the competition who acted as mentors and judges – Clarke McGuire, Lumir Popek and John Richmond. The event features 140 teams from 16 countries in a series of ten ran-

Farnworth, the MLA for Port Coquitlam, was one of two passersby who came upon Mikhail Morokhovich, 43, as he lay struck with a severe heart attack on a Burke Mountain sidewalk. Farnworth and James Smith administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) – which turned out to be critical to the outcome. “Without a doubt, the quick actions of these two heroes saved Mr. Morokhovich’s life,” said CUPE 873 president Bronwyn Barter. “We urge everyone to learn CPR.”

dom emergency situations. Teams are judged on their response time, knowledge, skill and ability to perform under pressure. Team Canada-B.C. missed a first place finish by less than 200 points, falling just short of the Florida USA Team. “The team’s simulated task based on ‘Electricity the Silent Killer’ and a myocardial infarction earned high technical praise and they were also recognized for their contribution towards promoting the event across Canada and around the globe,” the Justice Institute of BC reported on its website.

FINE EXAMPLE BC Ambulance paramedics thank MLA Mike Farnworth and James Smith at a media conference.

FALL 2012


CUPE CUP E focus privatization

CARING AND SHARING, BC LIBERAL STYLE Government’s outsourcing plan for B.C. universities may not see the light of day In today’s public education system, management talk of “shared services” tends to raise alarm bells since, too often, the term is just code for “privatization.” So when members of the B.C. Universities Coordinated Bargaining Committee and CUPE’s colleges sector heard whispers of a shared servicON THE BUBBLE? CUPE 951 distribution clerk Heather Campbell and CUPE 917 carpenter es project well underway at campuses Craig Jenkins, both University of Victoria employees, are the kind of support workers who across B.C. this summer, those alarm could be affected by a provincial government shared services review. bells went off. The cause for concern was a pro- June 25 to a final report for implemen- plan flopped in the United Kingdom. vincially-funded “administrative service tation in October. All that, with a collab“Despite significant cost and effort, delivery transformation project,” which orative process “to assess opportunities the planned benefits of the initiais a fancy way of referring to job reduc- for shared procurement and back office tive have not been achieved,” said the tions aimed at cutting costs. administrative services across the pub- National Audit Office’s report on a plan The CUPE members who make our lic post secondary sector to achieve best for British government departments to post secondary institutions work weren’t value and fiscal plan targets…” share back-office functions. “There has privy to the plan, but they appear to be It was bad enough that the BC also been a failure to develop the benchits primary focus. While management Liberals were planning to cut $70 mil- marks necessary for measuring perforgets a pass, many CUPE jobs mance.” are targeted – including facili- It’s bad enough the Liberals are Second, there’s the likelihood of politties, maintenance, grounds, cutting $70 million from the sector. ical blowback. Despite the fact that recruitment, benefit plans, Deloitte is also producing a K-12 shared printers, procurement, and But to launch this project while our services study for the B.C. government, information technology. locals are at the table? Worse. former Minister of Education George Abbott stated that the government was Corporate efficiencies the priority lion from post secondary education. “not interested in exploring major outHired for the hatchet job was Deloitte, a But on top of it all, the government sourcing or privatization of education private consulting firm that also offers launched the project while CUPE post support services.” shared services operations. On its web- secondary locals were in bargaining. Abbott’s comment came before the site, the company touts services that Now ministry officials say they won’t mass defections from Christy Clark’s address “people and change manage- comment until the project is finished. cabinet – including his own – that now ment issues, including workforce tranhave the premier struggling to set a sition” as well as “the possible benefits Deal not a slam dunk policy agenda she can take into the 2013 of outsourcing.” Under the heading of Despite the initial apprehension, how- election, an agenda that sits well with bottom line benefits is “reducing head- ever, there are a few factors that could the voting public. count (typically 15-25 per cent)” and silence the alarm bells about this projIf she really wanted to know how to “lower labour costs due to relocation of ect. improve the administration of post-secFirst, the hasty plan seems unlikely ondary education, Premier Clark should operations.” The project ran quietly over the sum- to find those promised major savings have asked us – we could have shown mer until CUPE got wind of it. The while retaining transparency and fiscal her how CUPE workers work best. timeline was extremely short: from responsibility. Not long ago, a similar 6



focus convention

Delegates look ahead to a busy year working for positive change in B.C.

Advocacy and action V IC T OR IA | Only a few days after two historic by-election wins by the BCNDP in Chilliwack-Hope and Port MoodyCoquitlam, CUPE BC’s 49th annual convention kicked off with a sense of excitement and optimism for political change in the year ahead. Those wins, plus the huge victory against a P3 water privatization scheme in Abbotsford a few months earlier, highlighted that CUPE members can make lasting positive change in our communities through advocacy and direct action. The momentum from these positive results was reflected on the convention floor as more than 500 delegates enthusiastically endorsed an ambitious action plan to fight privatization, organize for the 2013 provincial election, and advocate on behalf of our members around key strategic priorities. The convention theme, “Working to Make Communities Work,” celebrated the contribution our members make to their communities every single day. “CUPE members don’t just work for their communities, they live there,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “We are integral parts of towns and cities across the province, serving as volunteers, supporting the local economy and helping make our communities stronger and more sustainable.”

Inspired speakers With his opening address to kick off convention, O’Neill conceded that the past year had been challenging with both the federal and provincial governments launching attacks on workers’ rights. But he reinforced the notion that CUPE members can make a difference in their communities,

HIGH VISIBILITY CUPE BC’s community events trailer served as a week-long free advertisement for the union from this advantageous parking spot outside the Empress Hotel.

pointing to the union’s success in the November municipal elections. Delegates to the four-day convention also heard from BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix, who outlined his road map to victory in 2013. Dix praised CUPE members for their work in Abbotsford against the P3 drinking water scheme, and he gave CUPE BC a big thumbs-up for its commitment to the Ten Percent Shift. “We can win a mandate together to make life better for the next generation of British Columbians,” he told delegates (see column on page 14). Convention also heard from Francisca Castro, secretarytreasurer of the General Alliance of Concerned Teachers in the Philippines, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) youth ambassador Jake Kaese, CUPE National president Paul Moist, and – in his first address to B.C. convention delegates – CUPE National’s new secretary-treasurer, Charles Fleury.

Taking the lead

PAYING TRIBUTE Barry O’Neill was one of the featured speakers at the Victoria and District Labour Council’s Day of Mourning event held at Centennial Square on April 28. Hundreds of delegates attended the event before returning to the Conference Centre for the final day of convention.

In between debating resolutions on school calendar changes, constitutional changes, and political action, a group of CUPE members organized the first-ever skilled trades workers forum. Hosted by CUPE BC’s skilled trades working group, and attended by more than 50 delegates, the forum featured several speakers and offered delegates several ideas on how they can support skilled trades workers within their locals. The new working group aims to raise the profile and awareness of the trades in British Columbia. Next year’s CUPE BC convention, our special 50th anniversary edition, will once again be held in Victoria. FALL 2012


linking labour robin jones


“The government must be sent a strong message that the days of ‘net zeroes’ and contract mining are over.”

Stronger at the table, stronger at the polls As the provincial election draws nearer, CUPE’s regional office staff are working closely with the B.C. Division on a political action campaign designed to get members involved and defeat the repressive Liberal government we have suffered under these past dozen years. To get the campaign rolling, Sister Rachel Champagne has been appointed political action coordinator. She will be working with staff, local executives, the Strong Communities working group, and members to put in place the tools and strategies necessary to achieve victory in May 2013. It was quite alarming, the number of ridings that were lost to the Liberals in the 2009 election by margins less than the number of CUPE members living in the region. This was a sobering reminder of the potential difference we can make in the final outcome, so getting out the vote will be a priority this election. Of course, the ability to reach members with alerts and campaign news is crucial to that effort. So member contact information will be an important subject of discussion with local executives in the upcoming months.

Meanwhile, we continue to seek solid gains in new collective agreements for our members. The “common front,” a coalition of some 22 sister unions affiliated to the BC Federation of Labour, continues its coordination of bargaining for various sectors. This fall, we’re seeing an increase in job action by affiliates as public sector workers throughout B.C. are fed up with the Liberal government’s “net zeroes,” “cooperative gains,” and other euphemisms for sweet you-know-what. CUPE locals are participating, to varying degrees, in targeted job action. The coalition has been quite successful to date in keeping affiliates apprised of each other’s bargaining issues and status. The Public Sector Working Group meets at least every two weeks, and staff are updated after each meeting.



STRATEGIC THINKING CUPE staff reps Zoe Magnus and Tina Meadows discuss bargaining issues and the larger political picture with Robin Jones. Staff contributions are key to success, both in contract talks and election campaigns, says Jones.

We remain firm in our intent to see real new money in the social services sector in particular, and to achieve a fair and reasonable wage increase that at least keeps up with the cost of living. The government must be sent a strong message that the days of “net zeroes” and contract mining are over. Given recent revelations of management and remuneration bloat at ICBC, the rolling of bonuses into managers’ salaries in the social services sector (after the disgraceful closure of group homes), and the three-fold increase in managers our sister union HEU is uncovering at the bargaining table, the provincial government’s usual calls for belt-tightening ring rather hollow these days. The emperor, as the saying goes, has no clothes. It should come as no surprise to this BC Liberal administration that workers are fed up with being expected to shoulder the burden, each and every year, of an ideological government’s financial mismanagement and skewed priorities that always favour tax breaks for corporations and the rich. At the very least, it’s time for the lowest paid workers to see a cost of living increase. And it’s time to restore service cuts that affect the most vulnerable in society. It’s a matter of fairness, and a matter of respect. Robin Jones is director for CUPE’s British Columbia region. + News + Commentary + Leaders’ voices MO R E O NL I NE

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOOK Library workers adapt to a changing workplace

For longer than anyone can remember, public libraries have offered free access to powerful information and a wide range of resources that connect people to their communities and make a real difference in their lives. EACH DAY ACROSS B.C., 2,600 public library workers and CUPE members work to serve their communities with this valuable public service – and they do so despite facing tight budgets and looming service cuts from library boards and other elected officials who don’t always appreciate the value that public libraries bring to communities. In the past year, CUPE library workers across the country have faced a tough bargaining climate and have had to work hard to defend the important public service they provide. They continue to face these challenges even as their workplace environment – and some say the very purpose of the library itself – is changing dramatically.

Pressure on the system Earlier this year, Toronto public library workers were forced to shut down their work sites for ten days. In Regina, public library workers walked off the job. And in the Okanagan, public library workers engaged in limited job action for several months. These CUPE members, like others across the country, have been standing up for library services that are under attack from a man-

FALL 2012



The library as community VANC OU V E R | More than 150 library workers from across B.C. gathered this past May for CUPE BC’s Library Workers Conference. Themed “Re-inventing Libraries – Thinking Outside the Book,” the conference explored the new role that libraries are taking in communities. “Libraries are no longer just a place where people come to check out books, or do research. Today, libraries are community centres,” said Heather Inglis,

ON THE COVER CUPE 402-02 (Surrey Public Library) members, from left, Denise Parks, Paulette Hanlon, Sandra Cole, Debby Sloman, and Randi Kuckein (seated).


LOVING OUR LIBRARIES Keynote speaker Vicki Gabereau (front centre) is joined by CUPE members and staff at the library workers conference in May.

CUPE’s library sector coordinator for B.C. “This conference was aimed at giving library workers the tools and information they need to adapt to changes in the library system.” The first half of the conference featured keynote speeches by local broadcasting

agement cost-cutting agenda that is increasingly driven by technological change. “The community traditionally thinks of libraries as providers of books, music, movies and programs for children,” says CUPE 1123 president and library committee member Rose Jurkic. “For as long as they have existed, libraries have been the keepers of books. But over the past couple of decades, libraries have really evolved. Technology has played a key role in this evolution and has changed how libraries operate, what libraries offer and how library workers perform their jobs.” Jurkic adds that computers, the Internet, eBooks, cell phones and smart phones – among other things – have drastically changed libraries. These changes can be seen as positive, but they’re also challenging: despite the evolving technology of recent years, libraries must still serve the same core function as places for communities to learn, grow and explore.

The “Jack of All Trades” syndrome Today, libraries have taken on more of a community centre role that finds library workers offering a broader combination of books, tools and programs for patrons to access. Libraries are no longer “book depots” but are instead


personality Vicki Gabereau and author Angie Abdou, and a panel discussion. Conference workshops included violence and bullying, ergonomics, knowing and advocating for your rights, conflict resolution and effects and impacts of the economy on libraries.

becoming community meeting places. However, these changes have meant that library workers are under increasing pressure to keep up with both technology and the demand for services at libraries. Today, patrons expect more from their public libraries and public library workers than ever before. One CUPE 391 member says the biggest challenge public library workers face today is the expectation “to be all things to all people.” Public perception is often that library workers spend their days helping patrons to locate a book or suggesting an interesting title. But in reality, library workers are expected to be a “Jack of all trades”: they must be able to answer complex reference questions while also having the ability to repair a photocopy jam or troubleshoot an eReader.

Complex needs for a diverse public Library workers must not only provide a wide range of services but must also accommodate a wider range of people. From those just learning to read, to new Canadians or individuals with literacy challenges, the public library is a space for everyone to become “lifelong learners.” B.C. library workers have seen more new Canadians access their libraries’ resources to

help them adjust to life in a new country. New Canadians go to their local public library to attend language classes, use the computers and Internet to facilitate job searches and to seek the knowledge of library workers to help them navigate their new community. Lower-income and unemployed patrons often use their local library as their only source of Internet access. Seniors come to the library to attend programs, learn to use the Internet, social media and other new technologies, and also to socialize, while students come to the library to study and perform research. The common factor for all these patrons is the free access to information that the public library provides. Library workers believe that technology has both broadened and narrowed this access at the same time.

Libraries are for everyone “One of our biggest challenges in the future will be ensuring that the traditional role of libraries does not disappear at the expense of new emerging technologies,” says one CUPE library worker. “This means helping to ensure that information remains accessible to all patrons – regardless of social status or income bracket.” If the majority of a public library’s collection is only available in eBook format, she adds, only those patrons who can afford eReaders will have complete access – thus widening the economic barrier dividing those who can or cannot use a library’s resources. It’s impossible to know where technology will lead us, but B.C.’s public library workers will continue to adopt – and adapt to – new technology as it shapes our future libraries. And they’ll continue to fight for the right to access for all.

Connecting with our communities Here are a few stories showing how B.C.’s public library workers and CUPE members help shape their communities every day: “WE HOST A FAMILY LITERACY program in the evening called ‘multi-generational game night.’ This program welcomes all members of the community to come to the library and enjoy a family atmosphere. We set up board games and puzzles in the reading area, craft and snack stations in the children’s area, and the Xbox Kinect in our meeting room. Patrons of all ages can move through the library and participate in the game playing or just enjoy watching the others; the library becomes the community’s living room.” Renee Milaney, CUPE 2254 “JOEY IS THREE YEARS OLD – or, as he frequently tells you, almost four … next year. His mom started bringing him to the library when he was just six weeks old, faithfully coming to our weekly baby times. Today is story time at the library. Joey struts through the doors, shouting his usual ‘Hello everybody, I’m here!’ He eagerly runs to the picture book area, anxious to pick out his books for the week and be the first one through the door of the story time room. But today is not just a normal day for Joey: it will be his last visit to our library. Joey and his family are moving. As he comes to check out his books and tell me about the story he heard at story time today, Joey asks: ‘Do you think they have story time at the library in Nelson? And do they do crafts, and puppet shows and stuff like we do here?’’ Rose Jurkic, CUPE 1123 “MY FAVORITE PART OF MY JOB is engaging ‘the reluctant reader’- it’s not an easy task. Studies show that, as students get older, they describe themselves as nonreaders. So I target them. I ask them, ‘What do you like to do – read, play or watch?’ Whatever their interest is, my

REINVENTING LIBRARIES CUPE BC’s library committee is working with locals to ensure that technological change does not come at the expense of highly valued services at B.C.’s public libraries.

answer is always: ‘We’ve got a book on that’ or ‘I’ll get one’. I love the challenge as well as the reward when the student brings back one book and asks ‘What’s next?’ My job is to keep ahead of those readers, finding them the newest titles or showing them some of the classics. The self described ‘non-reader’ becomes a valuable source for what’s new and current, and the learning works both ways.” Sharon Berg, CUPE 1260 “AS A HIGH SCHOOL LIBRARY CLERK, you get very familiar with the popular teen books. Some students read through books very quickly and it helps to have choices of similar books to keep them reading. By looking up book reviews and reading many of the new titles, I’m able to stay current and help the students find that ‘next’ book.” Heather Masson, CUPE 523 “SOME OLDER ADULTS may be bewildered by computers, gadgets and video games. Tech Buddies is a program that partners teen volunteers and older adults in a safe learning environment. The teens answer questions and demonstrate how to use the Internet, e-mail, various social media sites, smart phones or video games – whatever interests their partner. While demonstrating a game of Wii Bowling, one of the participants blurted out, ‘Now I know what my grandkids are doing in the basement when they are Wii-ing!’” Fatima Ferreira, CUPE 410 FALL 2012



INSPIRING ACTIVISM Seen with Swaziland activist Siphiwe Hlophe (centre), from left, are secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock, former Diversity vice-president Shehnaz Motani, general vice-president Paul Faoro, Metro regional vice-president Ian Norton, Diversity vice-president Michele Alexander, and alternate Fraser Valley regional vice-president Paul Albrecht.

VISIT FROM SWAZILAND In May, CUPE BC hosted a lunch meeting for activists and staff with Swaziland trade union and HIV activist Siphiwe Hlophe. Sister Hlophe shared her experience as a public employee in the Swaziland Ministry of Agriculture, and her years of advocacy for workers and women’s rights. The first elected female executive of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, Sister Hlophe responded to her own HIV diagnosis by helping launch an HIV/AIDS organization with funding from the Stephen Lewis Foundation, an organization that CUPE BC proudly supports.

P3 WOES CONTINUE IN CRD V I C TOR I A | Vancouver Island Water Watch (VIWW) is urging the Capital Regional District to reconsider a P3 project as a part of a new $782-million sewage treatment plant. The majority of the project will be publically funded and operated. However, one third of the project (the biosolids energy centre) will be operated as a public-private partnership. VIWW believes that a P3 is not in the best interest of CRD residents and is encouraging the CRD to opt for a shorter contract that would allow the centre to be transitioned back into public hands and controlled by the CRD.

SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS BUR NABY | CUPE BC has awarded the Aubrey Burton-Reg Ford Memorial Scholarship to six students this year. Receiving $500 each from secretarytreasurer Mark Hancock on behalf of the Union are Sally DeMerchant of Fort St. James (CUPE 4177), Lindsay Fleming of Nelson (CUPE 339), Shaelynne Gresiuk of Nakusp (CUPE 2450), Alida Kleyn of Princeton (CUPE 847), Kayla Meadows of Richmond (CUPE 394), and Jessica Van Brummelen of Kelowna (CUPE 3523). The annual scholarship is awarded to children of CUPE members who are planning on entering post-secondary education. Congratulations to this year’s winners! TALKS STALLED IN COM HEALTH After seven months at the table, the Community Health Bargaining Association broke off negotiations in late August and began preparing for a strike vote over the government mandate, which amounts to net zeroes. At press time, the Health Sciences Bargaining Association was continuing negotiations, although they reported slow progress at their table. Both groups continued to seek fair and reasonable collective agreements.

Social media takes off at week-long school N AR AMATA | For two weeks in June, dozens of members took advantage of CUPE’s exceptional union education programs at the Naramata week-long schools. From political action, parliamentary procedures and communications to leadership and stewards training, members honed their skills, learned new ones and traded stories of success and failures. For the first time, a new social media course was built into the longstanding “Communicating CUPE” workshop. 12


Members in the course learned how to avoid the pitfalls of social media, engage their community and join in on the conversation about important issues related to their work. Throughout that week, the “students” created a Twitter hashtag, #CUPEedu, where everyone at the school could engage with each other no matter what course they were taking. The community engagement even made it to the streets of Naramata, as the groups from each week participated in a “casseroles night.” To show soli-

darity with striking students in Quebec, members banged pots, pans, trays and even coat hangers as they marched through the village. To learn more about CUPE’s union education opportunities, go to resources/union-education.

CUPE CUP E focus leadership

CUPE BC activist steps up to rejuvenate the Fed GVP Davies joins IBEW’s Michelle Laurie in bid to renew BCFed leadership B U R N A B Y | CUPE BC general vice

president Trevor Davies has thrown his hat in the ring for the position of secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour, running alongside the IBEW’s Michelle Laurie, who’s seeking the position of president. The pair will seek election at the BC Fed’s fifty-fifth annual convention, to be held in Vancouver from November 26-30. The campaign theme, “Renew the Fed,” is focused on making the Federation more relevant and central to the lives of union members across the province. For more information on the campaign, go to, or check out the Facebook page at Sister Laurie was first elected president of the IBEW Local 258 in 2002, and was re-elected in 2006 and 2010. She has also served as vice-president of the BC Fed, and as chair of the Fed’s occupational health and safety committee. Brother Davies, as well as being a GVP for CUPE BC, is president of

NEW BLOOD CUPE BC general vice-president Trevor Davies and IBEW president Michelle Laurie promise to make the BC Federation of Labour more relevant to union members across B.C.

CUPE 374. He represents more than 600 workers in six municipalities in the Greater Victoria region. He has served on a number of CUPE BC committees, as well as the Young Workers Committee of the Fed. The “Renew the Fed” campaign arose from the 2010 BC Federation of Labour convention, at which CUPE BC delegates voted not to take their seats due

to a breach of the Federation’s constitution. Instead, they held their own meeting and debated a wide range of issues, including CUPE BC’s approach to the future of the Fed. One of the caucus decisions was to “identify and support candidates for the BC Federation of Labour executive, including a CUPE member for one of the two officer positions.”


CUPE BC’s provincial election reminder: get involved early, and register to vote! BU R NABY | The next provincial elec-

tion is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, 2013, and CUPE BC will be pulling out all the stops to ensure we elect a progressive government. We’ll be launching a new election website and an innovative, full-scale social media campaign to communicate with members all over the province about the importance of casting a ballot.

Every election is important, regardless of which level of government. But this provincial election it’s especially important to do what we can to reverse the trend of declining voter turnout. That’s why CUPE BC is issuing a special request to all CUPE members in the province, to please make sure you’re registered to vote. It’s easy to do: just go to the Elections BC website at www.elections. and click on “Register Here Now.” CUPE BC’s Political Action Committee has produced a brochure on the importance of voting called “Why should you vote?” If you haven’t seen a copy – or would like more – please ask your Local to order some from the regional office. FALL 2012


CUPE CUP E focus bc politics

B.C. needs to get smart Education, skills training the key to prosperity, says NDP leader By Adrian Dix

When I was growing up in B.C., there was clearly a gap between rich and poor, but there was also a large and thriving middle class. And there were opportunities for working people to advance: to get an education, to buy a house and to build a better future for their children. The social mobility that resulted was more than just positive for individuals. It also helped drive growth and prosperity for the whole economy. Today, the gap between rich and poor is widening in B.C. Our province has the highest rates of inequality in Canada. The gap between the top 20 per cent and bottom 20 per cent is the largest in the country. From the OECD to the Conference of Board of Canada, to those homemade signs at Occupy movement protests, there is a now a realization that inequality represents a significant social and economic problem: the middle class is Dix shrinking, and if action is not taken this will be the first generation in history to see fewer opportunities than their parents, a fate we can and must avoid. During times like these, B.C. needs to avoid band-aid solutions but set in motion now the kind of policies that will build a foundation for future economic growth. In this light, a top priority for our provincial governments should be to invest in the skills and knowledge of the workforce – especially young people. Such an investment allows everyone the chance to pursue their dreams in an increasingly difficult labour market.

Reversing the downward trend One way to rebuild the ranks of the middle class is to ensure and increase educational and training opportunities. Doing this and improving economic competitiveness are interdependent. The government’s own labour market projections foresee a shortage of 61,500 skilled workers in B.C. by the decade’s end. It also states that 80 per cent of future jobs will require a level of post-secondary education, and jobs requiring degrees or certification are growing at twice the rate of other employ-



SKILLED WORKERS, STRONGER COMMUNITIES Adrian Dix has commended CUPE BC for its efforts to promote more apprenticeship training opportunities in B.C.

ment. A cross-section of B.C. leaders in industry – forestry, manufacturing, high-tech, and energy – and labour count the skills crisis as one of the top threats to economic competitiveness and a main cause of future inequality.

A plan that works for everyone The equality gap and its attendant skills shortage are why the BC NDP is presenting policies to ensure that young people, and workers in transition, have access to the post-secondary education they need, and a plan to pay for it. For these groups, increasing barriers to post-secondary education – from cuts to costs – are barriers to opportunity and hope. For British Columbia as a whole, these barriers put us at risk for high rates of structural unemployment – turning B.C. into a place where there are jobs without people and people without jobs. Our attention to areas such as the skills crisis also reflects the approach we are taking, toward the coming election, of presenting an agenda focused on a set of well-chosen priorities. First, it takes into account how in today’s reality government faces more constraints, a result of trade agreements and reduced fiscal capacity. And telling British Columbians what we are going to do, and how we are going to fund these policies and programs, provides New Democrats with a way to repair the mistrust people are feeling toward government after years of Liberal broken promises and mismanagement. That is why we are going to take on what can we deliver properly, and afford, in a four-year term. Adrian Dix is British Columbia’s Leader of the Opposition and is the leader of the BC New Democratic Party.

CUPE CUP E communities members making a difference

Fraser Valley workers give back C H IL L IW AC K | CUPE 458 continued cel-

ebrating 60 years of public services with a donation this summer to three Fraser Valley Community Services groups. During an August event, they presented Chilliwack Community Services, AgassizHarrison Community Services and Hope Community Services with cheques and then faced off against Community Services youth in a road hockey game. “CUPE 458 members work in the Fraser Valley, but we also live and raise our families here,” said CUPE 458 president Bryan Bickley. “Youth are the leaders of tomorrow, they are our future. We appreciate all the work that Community Services does, and we hope that our donations will help them keep doing excellent work.”

BIG HEARTS, BIG HAUL CUPE 798 secretary-treasurer Graham Mahy and city payroll clerk Gaye Ross pose with some of the food donated at the July 21 event.

Bringing out the ‘Santa’ in everyone CUPE 798 food bank drive a big success P O W E L L R I V E R | With

ANNIVERSARY GIVING CUPE 458 President Bryan Bickley presents cheques for Chilliwack Community Services, AgassizHarrison Community Services and Hope Community Services in August.


member Bob Ahuja, a bus driver from Abbotsford, wrapped up his Sears National Kids Cancer Ride across Canada to raise money for the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation.

donations slowing down mid-summer, the Action Centre Food Bank needed a boost – and that’s what it got on July 21, thanks to the “Christmas in July” fundraiser co-organized by CUPE’s municipal, regional and library workers. The event raised more than $900 and hauled in a truckload of food for those in need. “People were definitely in the giving spirit,” said CUPE 798 president

The biggest charity cycling event in the world on behalf of children with cancer, the ride began in B.C. on September 5 and ended in Halifax Ahuja on September 17. Ahuja’s ride followed a route that included stops at most of the 17 pediatric

Danielle Craigen. “We had volunteers come out to help us cook hotdogs and fill our carts. It was awesome, to have so many involved. Even Santa came by to put people in the giving spirit.” The event was organized by CUPE 798 in partnership with Quality Foods. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on a Saturday, CUPE 798 members collected cash and food donations outside while “Santa” roamed the aisles inside the store, encouraging shoppers to donate. Cash donations and food sale proceeds were used to buy items the food bank really needs, at a discounted rate. Craigen said the Local is hoping to make “Christmas in July” an annual event. cancer centres in Canada. The event has raised more than $2.5 million to fight cancer in the last two years. Ahuja writes on his webpage that his participation in the ride was inspired by the death of his 14-year old cousin, who lost his battle with cancer. Although the ride is over, you can still contribute to the cause at www.searsnationalkids FALL 2012


CUPE CUP E gallery

CHILLING OUT CUPE 951 president Doug

WE ARE ONE CUPE members throughout

Sprenger takes time out from Vancouver Island Music Fest with Rachel and Darren Blaney, volunteers from Campbell River who helped deliver public water to festival goers in an effort to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.

B.C. celebrated International Workers Day on May 1. Activists in Prince George gather in front of the CUPE BC community events trailer.


CORN OF PLENTY This year’s Labour Day event — held at Trout Lake Park in Vancouver — was a massive success, thanks to CUPE BC’s sponsorship of a concert by Chilliwack and the union’s provision of corn on the cob, served out of the community events trailer.

Hundreds attended the CUPE BC-sponsored celebrations at the annual Downtown Eastside Aboriginal Festival at Oppenheimer Park on June 21, in observance of National Aboriginal Day. Posing in front of the teepee, a local celebrant (far left) joins CUPE BC aboriginal working group member Jim Leyden, CUPE 15 secretary-treasurer Leanne Toderian, CUPE BC Diversity vice president (aboriginal workers) Dale Whitford, and CUPE BC general vice-president Paul Faoro.


WORKER TO WORKER CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock joins members of the International Solidarity Committee at CoDevelopment Canada’s annual fundraiser at the Maritime Labour Centre in June. 16


BC executive board members and local activists pose in front of CUPE 116’s float at the Pride Parade on August 5.

CUPE CUP E communities members making a difference

Longtime activists, staff retire CUPE BC bids farewell to a couple of longtime local presidents and two veteran staffers who have retired in recent months.

FAREWELL, SISTER ROSE On July 2, CUPE BC lost a dear friend with the passing of Musqueam elder N. Rose Point. A grandmother, mother, sister, aunt, friend and mentor to many, Sister Point was a familiar face among delegates to CUPE BC conventions and conferences, which she opened with traditional greetings from her people. Her warmth, good humour, and words of wisdom had a calming effect on us all – setting a tone of respect and solidarity for the proceedings that will long be remembered. She will be missed.

CUPE heroes save 11-year-old swimmer VANC OU V E R | Quick action by CUPE

116 lifeguards saved an 11-year-old this summer. When Colton Boechler went into cardiac arrest at the UBC Aquatic Centre, lifeguards Aaron Stryd and Jane Bellet performed CPR and used a defibrillator to keep the boy alive. Bellet said that the scariest part was realizing there was no pulse. “My training took over,” she recalled. “I was so worried, I thought he might be dead – I love kids and he seemed so lifeless.” “They are true heroes,” said CUPE 116 president Colleen Garbe, who also extolled the quality of the lifeguard training programs negotiated by CUPE under in-service training. Lifeguards at the UBC Aquatic Centre are paid $14.30 – 15.45 per hour.

TER R Y AL L EN, who retired in the spring after 33 years with the Burnaby School District, was president of CUPE 379 for the last 15 of those Allen years after serving as shop steward and first vice-president. A champion of workers’ rights, Brother Allen was a driving force behind coordinated bargaining and most recently served as chair of the CUPE K-12 Presidents’ Council. A tireless advocate of a strong public education system, he is currently serving his fourth term on Surrey’s Board of Education. L AUR I E L AR S EN, winner of the 2012 NWLC Labour Community Service Award, served on the CUPE BC executive board from 1999 until 2005. She sat on both B.C. division and national pension committees as well as several CUPE BC committees. As president of CUPE 402, she is proud to have helped organize 250 parks and rec workers and more than 120 childcare workers into her local, as well as Cloverdale Fairground workers. Like Brother Allen, Sister Larsen also sits on Surrey’s Board of Education, currently serving her second term. S UZE KI L GOUR , who began working at HEU as a researcher in 1992, was part of a team that implemented the negotiated pay equity agreement in the Facilities sub-sector, covering some 30,000 HEU members. She came to CUPE as part of the HEU-CUPE merger in 1995, and continued working on HEU special projects such as labour force adjustment, a gender analysis of the effects of Bill 29 on HEU members, maintenance of the Facilities subsector pay equity agreement, and a classifica-

YEARS OF SERVICE Mark Hancock congratulates Laurie Larsen on winning the 2012 Labour Community Service Award.

tion project involving the integration of long-term care jobs into the facilities contract. In 2005, Sister Kilgour transferred to a servicing rep position in CUPE’s Victoria area office. Working mainly in the university sector, she was a tireless advocate on pension and workplace accommodation issues. PAUL TETR AULT, whose union activist career began in the early 1980s, helped organize CUPE Local 2789 in Richmond and was elected its first president and bargaining committee spokesman. After a brief stint in law school, he served as CUPE 2950’s business agent for five years before moving to CUPE National in the early 1990s to work as the B.C. region’s sole legal rep. In 2004, he moved into servicing and worked in the K-12 sector. Also active in international solidarity work inside and outside CUPE, Brother Tetrault is the author of The Wall Must Fall, CUPE BC’s pamphlet on the Palestine/Israel conflict, currently in its third edition.

FALL 2012


power in numbers mark hancock


“If we’re serious about turning back the wrongheaded policies of the BC Liberals, we need to vote.”

All hands on deck for Election ’13 If the next provincial election were to be held as this is written, current opinion polling says the BC NDP would form government with a massive majority. As everyone knows, we are strong supporters of the NDP and its leader, Adrian Dix. We believe that Adrian will be a great premier in leading a government that will begin undoing the damage caused by 12 years of BC Liberal rule, and in responding to the needs of working people. But the next election isn’t now. It’s on May 14, 2013. And in B.C. politics especially, that’s a long way away. So we have to be prepared to work harder than ever before to ensure that we elect a positive, progressive government. In order to maintain the momentum that Adrian and the NDP caucus have created, we need to get out and vote as never before. The past two provincial elections have seen declining participation rates; it was down to 50 per cent in the 2009 election. I think that’s shameful. Voting isn’t just a right – it’s a responsibility. So we want to do our part to increase voter turnout. The first step in that process is to make sure that every CUPE member in the province is registered to vote. Studies show that citizens who are registered to vote are much more likely to actually cast their ballot than those who have to register on voting day. That’s why CUPE BC’s political action committee has created a leaflet/fold-out poster called “Why Should You Vote?” It’s aimed at encouraging all members to exercise their right to vote, and making sure that they actually do so on E-Day. We’ll be making quantities of the poster available to locals, so please contact our office to place an order. The

MAKING A DIFFERENCE NDP MLAs Kathy Corrigan (BurnabyDeer Lake), and Gwen O’Mahony (Chilliwack-Hope), join Mark Hancock at the opening night reception at the CUPE BC convention in Victoria.

poster does a good job of connecting the values we all share as union members with the ballot box. If we are serious about protecting and improving public services, we need to vote. If we’re serious about reducing child poverty, we need to vote. And if we’re serious about turning back the wrongheaded policies of the BC Liberals, you know what comes next: we need to vote! We’ll be focusing on the voter registration campaign over the rest of this Fall, and we’ll be ramping up our member communications as we get closer to the election itself in the New Year. We’re developing a state-of-the art website and social media platform to remind members of the BC Liberals’ record, and give you tools to spread the word amongst your friends and coworkers. The biggest obstacle to the NDP winning the next election is, frankly, apathy. Adrian and the caucus have done an amazing job winning public confidence and support, but none of that will matter if we don’t all get out and vote on May 14. The old saying, “Don’t count your chickens ’til they’re hatched,” is especially true in politics. I believe that the 85,000 members of CUPE BC can and will make the difference. Mark Hancock is secretary-treasurer of CUPE BC. + News + Commentary + Leaders’ voices


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510 - 4940 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C. V5G 4T3


TEL 604.291.9119 FAX 604.291.9043 EMAIL CUPE BC PRESIDENT Barry O’Neill SECRETARY-TREASURER Mark Hancock THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE EDITOR Daniel Gawthrop CONTRIBUTORS Clay Suddaby, Richard Overgaard, Kathryn Sutton, Murray Bush, Tria Donaldson COVER PHOTO Daniel Gawthrop OTHER PHOTOS Bronwyn Barter, Josh Berson, Bryan Bickley,

18 18

Danielle Craigen, Mark Hancock, Michael Lanier, Jeff Lawson, Doug Sprenger THE PU B LIC EM PLOYEE DESIGN AND LAYOUT Working Design THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE

COPE 491

CUPE BC’s Anti-Privatization Conference CUPE members build strong communities.

To keep them strong, we need to fight privatization efforts across the province. The “Positively Public” conference will help train CUPE members from throughout B.C. to recognize early warning signs of looming privatization and resist efforts to expand for-profit child care, health and education services, drinking water, and more. Hands-on workshops will also help locals tackle efforts to contract our work out, and learn how to get work contracted back in.

November 7 – 9, 2012 Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel Richmond B.C.


October 18, 2012 can be found at FALL 2012



Public Employee Fall 2012  
Public Employee Fall 2012  

Cupe BC's Fall issue of Public Employee