VICTORIA, BC—Delegates to CUPE BC’s 53rd annual convention in Victoria, which concluded April 30, 2016 after three days of speeches and debate, acclaimed Paul Faoro to the position of president and Trevor Davies to the position of secretary-treasurer. Alison Pringle was elected to the position of general vice president, and Laurie Whyte was elected to the position of trustee (3-year term.) The elections were made necessary by the election in November of former CUPE BC President Mark Hancock to the office of CUPE’s national president.
“I’m honoured to have the support and confidence of the members of our great union to continue our proud tradition of advocacy and representation on behalf of our 85,000 members across B.C.,” said Faoro. “We have much work ahead of us as we mobilize our members as never before to take on and help defeat the Christy Clark BC Liberal government in next year’s election.”
“To have earned the trust of delegates and members to continue in the important role of stewarding our finances is truly humbling,” said Davies. “I am committed to ensuring the Division has the necessary resources to support our Locals, District Councils and members across the province, as well as being able to invest in a robust and effective political action program.”
Local 3338 (Simon Fraser University) sent the following members to Victoria to represent the local in Victoria: Fiona Brady Lenfesty (President), Craig Pavelich (Secretary Treasurer & Young Worker), and Gerdi Snyder (Member-at-Large).
Among the resolutions delegates passed was an historic constitutional amendment that will add two diversity seats to the executive board after next year’s elections, one representing workers with disabilities and one representing LGBTQ+ workers.
“I’m thrilled to see delegates at CUPE BC recognize the need for a greater diversity of representation on the Executive,” said Craig Pavelich. “With the addition of a seat for workers with disabilities and a seat for LGBTQ+ workers, the voices of marginalized workers are being added to those of workers of colour and Indigenous workers. We fight every day for equity in the workplace, and now there is greater opportunity for the CUPE BC Executive to hear directly from workers experiencing systemic oppression.”
Reflecting further on his experience, Craig added, “It has become more and more clear to me that there is strength in numbers. We are not alone. Harassment and intimidation have no place in society, and certainly no place at work. We have the right to safe, equitable and fair workplaces. Together, we can create change for our members. Together, we are strong.”
Convention featured keynote speeches from award-winning Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, outgoing Representative for Child and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, and BC NDP Leader John Horgan, as well as greetings from a wide range of union leaders.
“Convention is always an exciting time of year! As activists we enjoy connecting with other members of CUPE BC and sharing our stories with one another. It is always encouraging to know that we have the solidarity of 86,000 CUPE BC members behind us, often we forget this as we deal with the day-to-day issues within each of our locals. One of the many convention highlights for me was Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s address to convention. Her words resonated with each and every one of the delegates. Her hard-hitting speech brought the house down with a standing ovation!” commented Fiona Brady Lenfesty.
For the first time in CUPE BC’s history, the president of the BCGEU was invited to address the Convention, continuing to build the strong relationship between the unions.
Going forward education and solidarity is key!
Gerdi Snyder, Member at Large and first time delegate remarked, “I have learned how many people fight for the same things behind the scenes but we do not ever hear from other locals, or hear what they have to deal with in regards to their employers. It was very educational to see what CUPE BC and CUPE National does for all its members. This was very valuable to me. They both work very hard and are extremely passionate about their work. I believe we have to do more in educating our members about the union as this seems one area that is lacking a bit. It was also very interesting to see and hear from all the various speakers from all areas of government, etc. We have to continue to fight for our rights and for respectful and harassment free workplaces. Last I would like to thank to local for the opportunity to attend”.
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Your 2016 Convention Committee (Fiona, Craig and Gerdi)