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The 33 receptionists and emergency dispatch operators at the CAUREQ in Rimouski are now members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). On November 24, they filed their application with Quebec’s Commission des relations du travail, and on December 16, the workers received official union certification.

The next step is to build the democratic structure of their union (CUPE Local 5038) before tackling negotiations for their first-ever collective agreement.

“It was a quick process; the CAUREQ workers were more than prepared. The main objective was to increase their negotiating power to achieve fair and equitable work conditions. Plus it also guarantees more respect and recognition for a group of workers, mostly made up of women, whose jobs are demanding and of vital importance,” stated union representative Yanick Proulx, who helped workers achieve accreditation.

The CAUREQ (Centre d’appels d’urgence de l’Est du Québec) answers all 911 calls in the Lower St. Lawrence, the North Shore and the Gaspé Peninsula. The operators are among the only ones in Quebec to play three roles at once: they answer 911 calls, act as emergency medical responders, and dispatch the fire and emergency services. Until now, the CAUREQ was the province’s only non-unionized 911 call centre.

In Quebec, CUPE represents several groups of 911 operators, fire and police dispatchers, and emergency medical responders, notably in the cities of Montreal, Lévis, Mascouche, Terrebonne, Deux-Montagnes, and at the Régie intermunicipale de police Thérèse-De Blainville and Roussillon.