CUPE members in the Kootenays who work in the municipal, K-12 and library sectors were the focus of a productive all-presidents meeting here on September 24, 2010.
Continuing a proud tradition in the province’s southeastern corner, B.C. regional staff joined the area’s local presidents on the eve of the Kootenay District Council’s annual general meeting to discuss various issues affecting the membership.
For the K-12 group, bargaining and all-day kindergarten dominated the all-day session.
“People are concerned that the government’s zero mandate is not what their members need, and they’re concerned about job security as well,” said CUPE’s K-12 coordinator for B.C., Bill Pegler.
While all-day kindergarten has had general support, he added, there have been mixed results.
“Districts are not equipped to provide play-based, all-day kindergarten, and kids are not getting the supports that they need.”
For the library sector, Friday’s meeting revealed the need for more communication between library locals.
“People really saw the need to create an informal group that could take part in conference calls or e-mail exchanges to exchange views,” said CUPE’s library coordinator for B.C., Jeff Lawson.
The library group discussed challenges facing the sector, such as self-checkout and its implications for both patrons and workers, and explored the potential for sponsoring community functions that help raise the profile of library workers while complementing CUPE’s objective of promoting literacy.
In the municipal group, the hottest issue was how market adjustments for wage rates are being driven by the employer.
“In some cases, the employer is cutting out the union in the negotiation process and dealing directly with employees to get agreements in principle to establish market adjustments, such as for trades or mechanics,” said CUPE’s municipal coordinator for B.C., Joe Badali.
CUPE BC’s Strong Communities coordinator Heather Inglis, addressing all three groups, shared some of CUPE BC’s initiatives for member to member contact.
“It’s encouraging that, based on today’s discussion alone, two locals are already interested in doing local action plans,” she said.
At the KDC’s AGM on Saturday morning, Inglis handed out report cards to CUPE presidents whose locals had labour-endorsed candidates. The locals will use the report cards to review the three-year performance of those candidates who were elected, thus informing the candidate endorsement process for 2011.
To close the day-long session, CUPE Education representative Connie Credico led the group through an engaging workshop about taxation and attitudes toward it.
CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock, in town for the KDC’s AGM on September 25, also attended a Friday evening roundtable discussion in which local presidents raised a current problem facing each sector and opened the floor to share perspectives and propose solutions.