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RICHMONDCUPE national president Paul Moist and CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill will join close to 200 delegates from more than 50 CUPE K–12 locals at an historic inaugural meeting of a provincial K–12 Presidents’ Council. The meeting will be on September 18 and 19 at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel (formerly the Richmond Inn).

In the key business of the meeting CUPE locals will establish bylaws, budgets and operating procedures for the new province-wide council. CUPE K–12 sector coordinator Bill Pegler said that the leadership of locals has worked hard in their regions and with CUPE staff to prepare for what will be a difficult round of bargaining.

“Collective agreements expire on June 30, 2010 and we intend to be ready to bargain, which will include coordination and building our capacity to work together with a highly coordinated employer association,” says Pegler.

CUPE delegates will have the opportunity to discuss key policy issues facing the public education system and key issues related to bargaining. These will include education funding issues, the work of the Support Staff Education and Adjustment Committee (SSEAC) and the Education Assistants Committee, developments related to StrongStart and other early learning initiatives in BC schools, and the current bargaining context.

CUPE represents 26,000 staff in B.C.’s K–12 system. CUPE members work in every support role within the public school system from helping children arrive at school (bus drivers and crossing guards) to supporting students in the system (noon-hour supervisors, education assistants, cultural workers) through the clerical functions (such as secretarial in schools, resource centres and district offices) and maintaining the buildings and grounds (custodians, trades people, and landscaping).