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Twelve new national servicing representatives from across Canada recently completed an intensive three-week training course in Ottawa.

The popular “Trainee Rep” program is offered annually by the national organizing and regional services (ORS) department. “We are ensuring a smooth transition between our current group of skilled reps, many of whom will be retiring in a few years, and their successors,” says ORS assistant director Daria Ivanochko.

The program covers all the basics, from the bargaining process to talking to the media to what happens when a local is put under administration. The teachers are retired representatives and are chosen for their communication skills as well as for their experience.
The 12 participants in this year’s program represented regions and sectors across Canada. When they arrived, most admitted to feeling nervous and uncertain about what was expected of them. By the time they returned to their home locals, they felt ready to take on the challenges of being a national representative.

“The past three weeks have helped relieve the anxiety of not knowing everything,” said Louise Firlotte, a member of CUPE 1418 in New Brunswick.

For Tina Meadows of CUPE 873-02 in British Columbia, the training program left her with a broader view of her role within the union.

“The most important thing I learned was that being a rep is about empowering locals to be self-sufficient and autonomous,” she said. “It’s about building the movement in that way.”

This session’s participants were:

Kim Cail, CUPE 3953
Amherst, N.S.

Suanne Hawkins, CUPE 3137
Windsor, Ont.

Lee McLeod, CUPE 2483
Morden, Man.

Cheryl Colborne, CUPE 3495
Delta, B.C.

Louise Firlotte, CUPE 1418
Balmoral, N.B.

Sharon Small, CUPE 1764
Whitby, Ont.

Cheryl Aschenbrenner, CUPE 2268
Saskatoon, Sask.

Tina Meadows, CUPE 873-02
Richmond, B.C.

Laura Delhenty, CUPE 3695
Tessalon, Ont.

Marta Posada, CUPE 2484
Toronto, Ont.

Rob Jandric, CUPE 7000
Langley, B.C.

Greg Ingram, CUPE 829
Medicine Hat, Alta.