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BURNABYCUPE Community Health sector members from Locals 15, 1978, 3495, and 4816 held a one-day bargaining conference this weekend at the Metrotown Hilton.

Health Care President’s Council president Frank de Waard welcomed the 30 members to the conference.

“We are the most valuable asset that the Health Authority has,” said de Waard. “We shouldn’t start out being willing to settle for zero and zero. By working together with our sister unions we are bargaining with, we can get contract improvements –even in these tough times.”

CUPE BC General Vice President Paul Faoro brought greetings from the Division and told delegates about the preparation work for 2010 bargaining that CUPE BC’s executive board is doing.

Faoro spoke about the challenges ahead, saying, “We need to promote the valuable services community health sector members provide.”

Guest speaker Adrian Dix, the NDP Health Critic, told delegates about how the Liberal government is cutting health services and underfunding health care. Dix was critical of the government for “downgrading service levels to save money.”

CUPE National Researcher Robin Roff delivered a presentation on flex benefits before delegates decided on bargaining priorities.

Delegates ended the day by electing their bargaining representatives. Pat Taylor (CUPE 15) and Jill Stromnes (CUPE 4816) were elected for Community Bargaining, along with Caroline Mewis (CUPE 15) and Frank de Waard (CUPE 4816) who were elected for Health Sciences Bargaining.

BC Government Employees’ Union and Hospital Employees’ Union representatives joined CUPE delegates for the conference, as they will all be working together to bargain the next collective agreement. Bargaining is expected to begin early in 2010.