CUPE welcomes civilian staff of the Organized Crime Agency of B.C.

RICHMOND – Civilian staff of the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. (OCABC) voted to join CUPE. The approximately 170 specialized professionals who deliver operational and administrative support to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) will form a new bargaining unit in CUPE Local 718.

“We are pleased to welcome employees of the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. to our union,” said Dal Benning, President of CUPE 718. “We are honoured to include our new members who provide core support to investigations into organized crime and help keep communities safer from gang violence.”

As a designated police agency in B.C., the OCABC is responsible for reducing and eliminating organized crime in the province. Integrated with 14 law enforcement agencies, including the municipal police departments and the RCMP, OCABC civilian employees provide key analytical resources to the province’s response to gang activity.

“Our new OCABC members do crucial work and deserve job security and better wages, benefits, and working conditions to help their efforts supporting important investigations,” said Benning. “We want our new members to succeed in their jobs and equipping them with a fair contract is the best way to do that.”

CUPE 718 will soon work with the new bargaining unit to negotiate their first collective agreement. Members will elect a bargaining committee and set priorities for what they would want to achieve in negotiations.

CUPE welcomes Chilliwack Crime Prevention workers

CHILLIWACK – The Canadian Union of Public Employees is welcoming workers at the Chilliwack Crime Prevention Society as new members in Canada’s largest union. In a vote held earlier this month, nine Crime Prevention Society staff voted unanimously to join CUPE 458.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome these new members into our union and our local,” says Darlene Worthylake, president of CUPE 458. “We can’t wait to start working with our newest members to get them their first collective agreement.”

Chilliwack Crime Prevention Society workers provide crime prevention education and other services that enhance public safety in their community. They also oversee community programs such as Block Watch and Speed Watch, help coordinate community volunteers, and provide victim services.

“The workers are proud to provide vital services to their community, making it a better and safer place to live for everyone,” says Worthylake. “For too long, they have been underpaid compared to workers providing similar services in other B.C. communities. I’m confident, working together we can help make significant improvements in their working lives – improvements that will also benefit the people that depend on them every day.”

CUPE 458 also represents more than 500 members who are municipal workers providing services to the District of Kent, District of Hope, Hope Recreation, Fraser Valley Regional District, Cultus Lake Parks Board, City of Chilliwack, and the Village of Harrison Hot Springs.

Residence Advisors at UBC vote to join CUPE 116

VANCOUVER—By an overwhelming majority, residence advisors have voted to join CUPE 116 at the University of British Columbia in a Labour Board vote that concluded on April 13.

“We are enthusiastic to welcome this group of workers into our local,” said CUPE 116 President Dave Lance, noting that residence advisors are a good fit as the local already represents a wide array of staff at UBC housing including service workers, tradespeople and front desk representatives.

Lance said that they are looking forward to connecting with their newest group of 112 student employees who advise students who live in residences to help them integrate and get involved in life at UBC.

“We look forward to learning about their issues and doing our utmost to work with residence advisors to integrate them in our collective agreement,” said Lance.

Residence advisors (RAs) are undergrads who work with other students in residence, many of whom are international students living and learning away from home. For many of this group, belonging to CUPE 116 is their first opportunity to be represented by a union. RAs help deal with student issues and perform resident check-ins. According to recent articles in The Ubyssey, safety concerns for RAs have been heightened during the pandemic.

CUPE 116 members provide vital services that make UBC work. CUPE 116 is a large, diverse local representing more than 2300 members at UBC including technicians, tradespeople and labourers, service workers, housekeepers, food services workers, dental assistants, parking and security officers, student housing and bookstore workers.

CUPE 458 welcomes fitness and recreation instructors

DISTRICT OF KENT—CUPE 458 welcomed 18 new members who work as fitness and recreation instructors in the District of Kent last week. Following a representation vote held in December, the Labour Board recently certified these workers as members of CUPE 458.

CUPE 458 President Darlene Worthylake said that this group of workers who provide health, fitness and wellness instruction for all ages at the Community Recreation and Cultural Centre and the Ferny Coombe Pool in Agassiz are important to the well-being of the community.

“This is such a great win for both our local and our newest members,” said Worthylake. “To be able to give these workers the same advantages, rights and liberties that our own people have is huge.”

Worthylake explained that the fitness and recreation instructors had to re-sign their contracts with the District every three months. “They had no job security or protections,” she said. “To have them come in under the same contract as our union members–that they are already working beside–is better all around.”

CUPE 458 also represents more than 500 members who are municipal workers providing services to the District of Kent, District of Hope, Hope Recreation, Fraser Valley Regional District, Cultus Lake Parks Board, City of Chilliwack, and the Village of Harrison Hot Springs.


CUPE 4951 welcomes 50 workers from Prince George Public Library

Union’s newest members were part of largest unorganized library system in B.C.

PRINCE GEORGE—Nearly a decade after its last organizing drive for the same group, CUPE 4951 has finally welcomed Prince George Public Library (PGPL) workers to their local following an overwhelming certification vote in favour of joining the union, confirmed on April 7.

The 50 new members are librarians, library clerks, library techs and library assistants, as well as security, finance and IT staff.

CUPE 4951 President Lily Bachand said the Local is happy to welcome these workers to the union after facing challenges during the last organizing drive in 2012.

“We are excited to have this group from the PGPL coming into the Local and we value what they bring to the table,” she said, noting that the new members join an existing group of CUPE library workers at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) and at the Fort St. James Public Library.

Bachand praised CUPE Organizing and member organizers for their efforts on the ground. While CUPE 4951 Second Vice-President Leanne Yearley coordinated card gathering and information package handouts, the library workers themselves were key to the campaign’s success.

“The group that really drove this effort was the organizing committee made up of six current library workers who talked to their co-workers and got the word out, which really helped the process along,” said Bachand.

Including the newly-organized PGPL workers, CUPE 4951 now represents more than 400 members who also work at CNC’s Prince George and five satellite campuses, the District of Fort St. James, and the Caledonia Early Care and Learning Centre.

CUPE 23 welcomes City of Burnaby fitness professionals

Union credits mayor and council for recent moves to bring multiple services in-house

BURNABY—CUPE 23 has welcomed approximately 50 fitness professionals as new City of Burnaby employees after an overwhelming certification vote in favour of joining the union, confirmed by the Labour Relations Board on March 23.

The new CUPE members are mostly instructors of high-intensity or low-intensity fitness and yoga classes who had previously worked for the City on a contract basis. Some time ago, a small group of instructors challenged the employer as they weren’t being paid the six-per-cent in lieu of vacation they were entitled to after five years of service, under the Employment Standards Act. As a result of their appeal, these workers received their retroactive pay for time served.

When the fitness professionals contacted CUPE 23 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the union worked with Parks Director Dave Ellenwood and Mayor Mike Hurley to include these workers in the adjustment agreement reached for all City of Burnaby employees affected by the resulting lay-offs. The agreement made the fitness professionals realize they were being treated better than unorganized workers, so they decided to join CUPE.

“The thing that’s awesome is that all the members are so happy to be part of the union because of the experiences they’ve had outside of the union,” said CUPE 23 President Bruce Campbell. “I can’t wait to negotiate fair wages and good working conditions for these members.”

Although these workers received lay-off notices because of provincial health orders on March 29, added Campbell, CUPE 23 was able to negotiate payment for all scheduled shifts.

The new fitness professionals joining CUPE 23 follow the union’s successful organizing of traffic control (flag workers) and security guards. Campbell acknowledged that having a progressive mayor and council, who have respect for all working people, made a difference in bringing in these new members.

“The City of Burnaby was spending so much on traffic control contractors already, but traffic control was still a problem,” he said. “For both traffic and security, they understood that they’d get better services at lower cost by going in-house.”

CUPE 23 represents more than 2,500 inside and outside workers, foremen, and library employees for the City of Burnaby.

CUPE 718 welcomes City of Richmond fitness professionals

RICHMOND—CUPE 718 has welcomed 56 new members to the Local after a Labour Relations Board certification vote confirmed on March 23. The new members are fitness professionals who work for the Richmond Fitness and Wellness Association.

The new CUPE members, who are existing employees at the Minoru Centre for Active Living and the Watermania fitness centre, include personal trainers, fitness attendants, group land fitness leaders, and aqua fitness leaders.

“We’re excited to welcome these new members to the CUPE family, and we look forward to representing them,” said CUPE 718 President Dal Benning, noting that the work of fitness professionals is highly certified and instructors must be registered with their professional associations.

“The work they do to help members of the community maintain and improve their health is so important during these difficult times, and we expect to see more of them join us in the near future as programs start up again.”

CUPE 718 represents 1,300 municipal employees for the City of Richmond. These members work at City Hall and at local community centres, arenas, the cultural centre and the museum, as well as in public works and for the RCMP.

CUPE 374 welcomes 9 new members

CUPE 374 welcomed 9 new members from BC Healthy Communities Society (BCHC) following a Labour Board representation vote that was certified on February 24. This new group of members includes planners, public health specialists and community engagement practitioners who help communities make planning decisions from a public health vantage point and through an equity lens.

“CUPE 374 is really pleased to welcome these workers who provide important community services at BCHC,” said CUPE 374 President Shireen Clark who notes that they will be a good fit as the local also represents two other community services groups. “We look forward to working with our newest members as they secure a first collective agreement and ensure a fair workplace.”

CUPE 374 now represents over 1000 municipal workers in 7 different municipalities and 3 community services groups throughout the Victoria region. BCHC is a not-for-profit agency that provides support, expertise and resources for health authorities, local governments and other key stakeholders in communities throughout B.C.

CUPE 1622 welcomes Surrey SPCA workers

BC SPCA workers at the Education and Adoption Centre and at the Good Shepherd Barn voted to join CUPE 1622 in a Labour Board vote counted on January 27. The two groups work at the same location but in different facilities.

“This will allow us to bring in and help more animals,” said CUPE 1622 President Rhonda Ott. “I’m excited that these workers are joining us.” Ott explained that many workers at the BC SPCA had worked at the previous Surrey SPCA unionized site, but the contract was not renewed. Years later, the BC SPCA re-opened in a different location.

Ott pointed out that the work is often challenging, as workers deal with animals that have been removed because of cruelty or abuse.

“Our members are committed to protecting and improving the quality of life of domestic and farm animals,” said Ott.

CUPE Local 1622 welcomes nine members from the adoption centre who work with small animals and cats, and four members who work at the barn with livestock including horses, sheep, lamas and fowl. They all work with abused, injured and neglected animals providing urgent care, rehabilitation and adopting them to new guardians who provide a safe and healthy home.

CUPE 1622 represents approximately 115 unionized SPCA workers in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

Peer harm reduction workers vote unanimously to join CUPE 1004

The representation vote held on March 9, 2020 by “Peer” harm reduction workers employed by the Portland Hotel Society (PHS) was finally counted, and the workers voted unanimously to join CUPE 1004. Peer workers at Insite, Washington Needle Depot, iOAT and overdose prevention sites in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are instrumental in saving lives in the face of British Columbia’s overdose public health emergency. Peers are employees with lived experience, similar to that of the participants and residents they serve.

“This is about respect and recognition,” said Don Cumberland, who has worked at the Washington Needle Depot on East Hastings for almost 20 years. “I hope this means that the people doing the hard work on the ground saving lives every day will finally get the credit they deserve.”

David Apsey, one of the main leaders of the union drive last March, sadly passed away in April 2020. He leaves a legacy of solidarity and strength for peer support workers. He will be remembered for his efforts to achieve for Peers the same protection as other PHS workers. “This is a long time coming,” Apsey had said in March.

Ballots from the vote were sealed when PHS challenged union certification for peer employees. That process was adjourned because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the vote now counted, it is expected that the Labour Board will issue the official certification this week.

“Our newest members do crucial life-saving work,” said CUPE 1004 President Andrew Ledger. “The 100% YES vote demonstrates the strong solidarity of these workers. We are proud to welcome them into our union, and we look forward to working to include them in the provincial Community Health Collective Agreement.”

The approximately 35 peer harm reduction workers will become members of CUPE 1004 that has represented employees of PHS since 1989. The local is a multi-sector composite local representing an array of public workers including employees of the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board.