Progressive candidates take all seven seats as CUPE-led campaign nets massive voter turnout

Progressive candidates take all seven seats as CUPE-led campaign nets massive voter turnoutA massive turnout by Pacific Blue Cross primary plan holders at the benefit provider’s annual general meeting on Wednesday night has resulted in half of the company’s board of directors being replaced by an entire slate of labour-endorsed candidates.

The election of all seven progressive nominees sends a clear message about the desire for change at PBC and represents an overwhelming rebuke of the company’s treatment of its workers in the last round of bargaining, said CUPE 1816 President Beth Miller.

“PBC plan holders were clearly concerned about the board’s role in allowing concessions and tolerating a lockout, and the turnout for this vote really tells the story,” said Miller. “We look forward to working with the new board to seek a new leadership model that will return PBC to its progressive roots.”

Aaron Ekman and Alicia Gallo were acclaimed when two current directors and two BC Nurses Union nominees withdrew before the vote. The other five slate candidates were supported by 90 per cent of the PBC members in attendance. In the health care professional member category, Dr. Sandra Jenneson and Dr. Stephane Voyer soundly defeated current director John Hope while another current director withdrew. In the individual member category, Brendan Dick, Joe Elworthy and Jim Iker similarly defeated incumbent directors Gary Fane and Gerry Smith and a third candidate, Cynthia Bratkowski, who ran to replace another incumbent director who had withdrawn.

The CUPE-led campaign, supported by the BC Federation of Labour and affiliates—including the Hospital Employees’ Union, MoveUP, Unifor, and the BC Teachers’ Federation—created enough momentum to put nearly 800 primary plan holders on buses and get them out to the Westin Bayshore to cast their votes for change.

The shuttle buses came from the PBC offices in Burnaby, a PNE parking lot in East Vancouver, and from Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

“On behalf of CUPE, we want to thank all the plan members who came out to vote, the candidates for putting their names forward, and the BC Fed and its affiliates who heeded our call for change and supported this campaign from beginning to end,” said Miller.

For photos from the AGM, see the Gallery here.