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In 1996 when the City of Halifax underwent amalgamation, shop steward Dave Duffett saw the writing on the wall. Brother Duffett knew that unless members got more active in Local 108’s outside workers unit, people were going to be hit by more contracting out.
“My mother always told me, ’Don’t wait for someone else to stand up for you. Stand up for yourself,’” he says.
Duffett and two other members now have the ongoing task of monitoring the new snow and ice control program under Local 108’s collective agreement.
“Whenever there’s a conflict between union and management, it’ll come to our committee first so it can be remedied without having to take a lot of time,” Duffett says about the program which went into effect November 15.
Duffett’s responsibilities include sitting down with a manager for his area the biggest in the Halifax Regional Muni-cipality and determining how employees and equipment are scheduled. National rep Larry Power says the monitoring “keeps contractors out of the workplace.”
A city gardener, Duffett was also instrumental in pressuring the employer to implement new health and safety measures after a member died as a result of a bee sting during the summer.
Duffett, who became “more proactive seven or eight years ago,” says when “you stick your neck out” it encourages others to get involved in the union. “If they’re willing to do that for me, well, maybe I should stand up.”
Doreen Meyer

If you have a steward’s experience that you’d like to share, send us a note or an e-mail to comm@cupe.ca. Or if you’re having a problem and you’d like some help, send us a question and we’ll ask others for their advice.