Greg Taylor | CUPE Communications

Already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal workers in the Township of Langley are now facing off with another threat to the community’s public recreation programs and services – privatization.

Spurred by recent discussion by the Township’s Mayor and Council to explore contracting out fitness programs, CUPE 403 launched a campaign to protect the community’s public recreation centres, gyms, arenas, and pools.

“It’s been very frustrating for recreation workers. After months of closures and uncertainty during the pandemic, it’s really disheartening to hear talk about contracting out,” says Sara Manchester, a recreation worker for the Township and President of CUPE 403. “We are proud to serve our community by delivering the very best recreation and fitness programs. We haven’t weathered the challenges of this pandemic to just sit back now.”

The campaign, Keep Play Before Profits, is raising the alarm on the threat to the community. It features transit shelter ads across the Township, and an action website that lets community members send messages to the Mayor and Council in support of public recreation programs and services.

“We are asking our friends and neighbours to send a clear message to the Mayor and Council – recreation should be for everyone, not just those in our community who can pay more for private, for-profit services,” says Manchester.

Many of the fitness programs being targeted are delivered by the newest members of CUPE 403, a group of recreation and cultural workers that voted to join the union in June 2020. The new unit has yet to reach a first collective agreement.

“The Mayor and Council are playing dirty with the future of these programs and jobs. We won’t be quiet and let them use the pandemic as an excuse. CUPE 403 members won’t stand for it, and we are sure the community won’t either,” adds Manchester.