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PRINCE GEORGECUPE’s newest BC local is looking forward to their first visit from CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. CUPE 4951 – representing operational staff at the College of New Caledonia in B.C.’s north central interior – promises Barry a warm welcome.

With the largest of six campuses in Prince George, the college serves a vast region – from Mackenzie in the north to Quesnel in the south, and from Valemont in the east to Burns Lake in the west. The local’s 300 members provide a wide range of jobs including registration, trades, library support, custodial and counselling services.

CUPE 4951 president Lily Bachand says that the new CUPE local has appreciated the support throughout the process of becoming CUPE members. “The reception and feeling of being looked after by CUPE has been great,” says Bachand. They will join CUPE’s Northern District Area Council and become members of CUPE BC as well as CUPE national.

Bachand and the CUPE 4951 executive will begin by focusing on becoming active within CUPE. They are particularly interested in education and training opportunities and in being able to collaborate with other CUPE college locals. They will also be preparing for bargaining, with their current collective agreement expiring in May 2010.

While they will not make the upcoming CUPE national convention in Montreal, they will be at next spring’s CUPE BC convention and the next national convention.

CUPE’s B.C. college sector coordinator Ian McLean, who worked closely with the local throughout the process, says that their membership and participation will put both the local and CUPE’s college sector on a solid footing in preparation for bargaining 2010.

Staff at CNC were previously represented by the Pulp Paper and Woodworkers of Canada (PPWC) and before that the Association of University and College Employees (AUCE).

Bachand says that strong membership support for the move to CUPE, following a unanimous executive recommendation to join, convinced the local that the move was in the best interest of members. “This move was a big issue for us and we did not take it lightly. It has the support of a strong majority of members and we move forward as a united front.