NARAMATA – It was a typically beautiful South Okanagan day for a solidarity rally in Naramata on Saturday, May 31.
Speaking to the crowd who had come from all over the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland to show their support for striking Naramata Centre workers, CUPE 608 President Brianne Hillson began by reading letters of support from CUPE National President Paul Moist, COPE 378 President David Black, and CLC President Hassan Yussuff.
Hillson talked about how important the support of CUPE and other unions was to the small group of striking workers at the United Church Naramata Centre.
Paul Faoro, CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer, pledged support to the striking CUPE members who he said were dealing with the effects of very poor management combined with a financially struggling facility. Faoro suggested that the Naramata Centre Board of Directors consider contracting out management rather than its front-line workers.
Faoro noted the irony that the rally was occurring beside a Dogwood tree that had been planted in May 2001, commemorating 25 years of partnership between CUPE and Naramata Centre.
BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair brought a strong message of solidarity from the B.C. labour movement and called on the Church Centre to treat workers fairly and to be open with its employees and the community about its plans.
CUPE 608 member and Centre Chef Colin Drought spoke with emotion about his 23 years of service at Naramata. Drought’s words resonated with many whose jobs will be contracted out if the Centre management continues with their plans.
CUPE 608 members at the United Church Naramata Centre provide a wide range of services to keep the guest accommodation facility running year-round. The 30 unionized employees began a full strike on May 15.
Visit the CUPE BC gallery to view photos.