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Annual ‘mini-think tank’ meetings focus on privatization, election campaign efforts

NANAIMO — The president, secretary-treasurer and four general vice-presidents of B.C.’s largest union, along with staff, have gathered in the Harbour City today and tomorrow to address some of the challenges its members will face over the next year.

The B.C. division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees holds an informal administrative planning meeting in Nanaimo each year in late June. These discussions precede a larger ‘think tank’ of CUPE BC’s entire executive and CUPE regional staff that is held in Kelowna each year in late July.

This year’s discussions, held at the Coast Bastion, are focussed on the union’s efforts to adopt strategies to fight privatization and prepare for municipal, provincial and possibly federal elections. The outcome of the meetings is especially important for CUPE’s 75,000 members in B.C., says CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.

“Our members make a big difference in their communities, in so many ways,” O’Neill says. “That’s why we need to prepare them for the challenges in the next year.”

The meetings include discussion on CUPE members’ role in boosting their local economies, a theme O’Neill addressed during a provincial tour that stopped here in late January.

Also attending the meetings and available for media interviews until tomorrow afternoon are CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock and general vice-presidents Carlene Keddie, Bev LaPointe, Cindy McQueen and Debbie Taylor.