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October 19, 2009

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Meeting of minds in the Kootenays

CRESTON—CUPE BC general vice-presidents Deb Taylor and Paul Faoro, along with regional and area office staff, travelled to the southeastern corner of the province last week to take part in the Kootenay District Council (KDC)’s third annual all-presidents meeting.

The Oct. 16 meeting, devoted to a discussion of various issues affecting the K-12 and municipal sectors in the area, is annually attended by CUPE local presidents from Rocky Mountain, Cranbrook, Creston, Nelson, Arrow Lakes/Nakusp, Trail, Castlegar and Grand Forks.

“It’s an exchange of ideas, because these people don’t get to see each other or talk about their problems and concerns very often, so here they can share as much information as possible,” said KDC president Gerry Schmon, adding that the meeting is always broken into separate groups for K-12 and municipal presidents.

The GVPs and staff were on hand to hear Kootenay perspectives and share experiences from around the province. Taylor, also the president of CUPE’s Campbell River Schools local, sat in on the K-12 meeting while Faoro, president of the Vancouver civic local, attended the municipal meeting.

For the day-long session on K-12 issues, staff sector coordinator Bill Pegler and Local Government Liaison Heather Inglis facilitated a discussion on grievances, essential services, the impact of cuts to the annual facilities grant, class composition, and the Strong Start program. Other issues discussed included the upcoming K-12 conference in Vancouver (Oct. 26-28), the joint committee for educational assistants, and the K-12 presidential council.

For the municipal sector group, staff coordinator Joe Badali facilitated a discussion that covered everything from increases in managerial staff to how communities set priorities for snow removal. The group also discussed job posting requirements and the criteria for filling jobs, retiree benefits, water certification and the industrial tax revolt. The municipal meeting concluded with a discussion about how to develop common bargaining strategies.

Following a group supper at the Hacienda Inn, the KDC hosted an evening roundtable discussion about the increase in management positions amid layoffs of unionized workers.


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