CUPE 1936 welcomed nine new members who work with the Vancouver Association of Survivors of Torture (VAST), providing support and services to refugees and immigrants fleeing persecution. The workers voted to join CUPE 1936 in an electronic Labour Board vote that was counted on July 8.

CUPE 1936 President Sheryl Burns said that their local is “super-excited” to have VAST join them. Not only are they a good fit with CUPE 1936, the Local wanted to support these workers who are all immigrants, adult children of immigrants, or have a personal connection to fleeing violence or persecution.

“Many of our members are also immigrants,” said Burns. “VAST is a socially-just organization and we want to do whatever is possible to help these workers gain some security with their first contract.”

The workers include clinical counsellors and art therapists who work towards the rehabilitation of torture survivors. VAST provides training, education and advisory consultation to organizations that support refugees in the Lower Mainland.

VAST has helped many seeking protection, including those fleeing violence and persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

CUPE 1936 represents more than 1300 members who provide social services in Greater Vancouver, including general services (encompassing women’s services, addiction services, and counselling), community living, and child care.