Residents of Union Bay, Royston and Kilmarnock also said no to privatized wastewater treatment in a referendum held this past June. An overwhelming majority of voters (75 per cent) turned down a proposed P3 that would have seen the Comox Valley Regional District sign a 30-year contract with an unknown private for-profit corporation.

After learning that a referendum would be taking place, CUPE 556 members quickly mounted a campaign asking residents to support “affordable, accountable, public sewage”. The local worked with CUPE National staff in developing a campaign that focused on educating voters about the risks of P3s.

CUPE members went door-to-door talking to residents about P3 failures, ran a series of newspaper ads and also did a community-wide mailing to ensure that residents had all the information they needed to say ‘no’ to for-profit wastewater treatment. “We were really able to connect with residents and have honest conversations about how privatized, for-profit services negatively affect communities,” recalls CUPE 556 President Karen Garrett.

Smaller communities have also been successful in contracting in work. During the fall of 2015, Revelstoke was able to keep garbage collection services in house by proposing several alternate options to the status quo.  And in April CUPE 608, representing employees of the Town of Osoyoos, was able to successfully contract in work providing janitorial services for summer washrooms and other civic facilities.

The Town decided to explore other options than the contractor they were using at the time after an incident in which the contractor left the washrooms unlocked overnight, resulting in damage to City property.

When the request for proposals came out, the local came forward with its own response highlighting the benefits of dependable CUPE work integrated with other Town operations. The proposal was considered and accepted, with the employer and union signing a three-year Memorandum of Understanding.