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A dozen CUPE members from across the country have completed the first stage of the trainee representative orientation program in Ottawa.

The three-week course gave trainees a solid grounding in how a servicing rep does their job. Facilitators from CUPE guided the trainees and covered everything from collective bargaining to campaigns to arbitration to organizing to health and safety.

CUPE has recognized the value of an orientation for potential staff representatives and is committed to assuring that this program continues,” says organizing and regional services managing director Julie Davis.

The trainees are about to head out for a seven-week field placement in various locals. Although many trainees have had some experience as reps, the seven-week placement will allow them to apply their acquired knowledge as they shadow reps in the field.

This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” says trainee rep Audrey Barr from CUPE 3523 in Kelowna. “The quality of the group and the instructors is amazing.”

The trainee rep program was last run in 1993. Organizing and regional services and the National President’s office have worked closely to revive it.

Rhonda Heisler from CUPE 1975 in Saskatoon called the program “an incredibly valuable exercise.” She added that, “The skills I learned here will be used for researching grievances, arbitrations and campaign development. All of the training will get me more involved in my local and in CUPE.”

The feedback from the trainee reps has been positive, which encourages all involved with the training.

The organizing and regional services branch will continue to work with the regions to recruit candidates as well as coordinate both the residential portion and field placement,” says Davis.