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June 26, 2009

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Port Moody celebrates public services

CUPE 825 members look forward to providing quality services and working on the new trucks. Pictured left to right are: Tony, Henry, Ryan and Hogler.CUPE 825 members look forward to providing quality services and working on the new trucks. Pictured left to right are: Tony, Henry, Ryan and Hogler.PORT MOODY—When the solid waste and recycling trucks roll out of Port Moody’s public works yard on Monday morning, CUPE members will be behind the wheel. The service was brought back in-house after being contracted out over ten years ago. Today the local celebrated with a pancake breakfast.

“We’re starting up on June 29,” says Ryan Slattery, solid waste operator driver and CUPE 825 member. “We’re looking for a fresh start to bring better service to our residents. These trucks are equipped with the top-notch gear we need to do our jobs.”

All three trucks were parked in front of City Hall and CUPE members were happy to demonstrate how they worked. Besides CUPE 825 members, many executive members from CUPE locals throughout the Lower Mainland attended.

CUPE 825 members arrived at the crack of dawn to decorate the room, fire up the grills, and prepare breakfast for the appreciative crowd.

CUPE 825 president Maria Wahl, who emceed the event, welcomed everyone on behalf of the local. “This is a very proud day for our members and we want to share it with our brothers and sisters in CUPE and with Port Moody,” she said.

Wahl added, “Our members care very deeply about our community and the residents. Quality public services and CUPE are one and the same. The residents of Port Moody will finally receive the same quality in solid waste as they have become accustomed to in all of the services that CUPE members provide.”

Henry demos the new automated truckHenry demos the new automated truckWahl gave a special thanks to Bridget Pronovost for her hard work this past year to ensure that the service will be a success. She also thanked Brian Carter, operations manager, for his work in implementing the system, and Port Moody Mayor and Councillors for their “vision for a better Port Moody.” She praised the members of CUPE 825 “who will make the service a success.”

“A lot of people from CUPE will have heard me say many times how proud I am of this local,” explains Wahl. “We stuck by this for over ten years. We vowed that we would get this service brought back in-house and we have done so.”

Speakers at the event included Acting Mayor Karen Rockwell, Councillor Meghan Lahti, city manager Gaetan Royer, CUPE National secretary treasurer Claude Généreux, and CUPE BC secretary treasurer Mark Hancock.

Lahti told the crowd how emotional she felt when she saw the trucks. She explained that when she first got elected in 1986, garbage was the very first issue council dealt with. “I was very opposed to contracting out services. It took me a long time to get over it. It came full circle last year when I was acting mayor and we voted to bring it back in-house. I’m really happy to be here to celebrate this change. Congratulations to everyone.”

Members cook up a tasty breakfastMembers cook up a tasty breakfastCUPE National secretary treasurer Claude Généreux pointed out that this day was really one to celebrate. “Bringing waste collection back in- house controlled by the city, done by city workers, means that it will be completely public and fully accountable.”

 Généreux said that other areas in Canada will look to Port Moody for inspiration, as a model to follow. “This is not just a one-off event. The great partnership here translates into reality for citizens and city workers.”

 Généreux commented on the excellent relationship between CUPE and city administration. “The value of workers has been expressed in a concrete way with a job evaluation process. It tells me that the city values the workers and invests in workers.

 “This way the city invests in the community. It’s one and the same. Quality services lead to a stronger community. And that’s what CUPE is trying to do all over Canada. It means that we’re partners.”

CUPE BC secretary treasurer Mark Hancock spoke of the struggle Port Moody residents faced with private garbage collection. He said that bringing solid waste collection back in-house comes down to political will, the ability for residents and citizens to communicate their desire for a stronger public service, and the cooperative effort between council and the union that represents city workers.

CUPE BC Secretary Treasurer Mark Hancock with Bridget Pronovost who was instrumental in making it all happen.CUPE BC Secretary Treasurer Mark Hancock with Bridget Pronovost who was instrumental in making it all happen.Hancock said that it’s a rarity to be able to bring a service back in-house because the capital cost is high. This isn’t about private workers versus public workers, he said, but rather a distinction between a private company that has to make a profit and a public provider where service is the bottom line.

“At the end of the day it’s not about a corporation making a profit, it’s about providing the best possible service to the residents of Port Moody.”

Hancock said that everyone is entitled to good, quality public services wherever they live and he congratulated council, city staff, CUPE 825 members and the local executive board on their success.

Port Moody city manager Gaetan Royer thanked guests in attendance, acknowledged city councillors in attendance, and brought regrets from Mayor Trasolini who was unable to attend.

Royer said that what happened in Port Moody is being discussed in a lot of regions in B.C. He said that there is a different relationship that can be built with unions.

“Unions are not the enemy. They are your employees. They’re the people you call at two o’clock in the morning and say, ‘We’ve got a water break, can you come out and fix it?’ and they’ll say, ‘I’ll be right there. I’ll go as fast as I can.’ The union is a partner in our community.”

CUPE 825 president Maria Wahl with City manager Gaetan Royer and Councillor Meghan LahtiCUPE 825 president Maria Wahl with City manager Gaetan Royer and Councillor Meghan LahtiRoyer said he hopes that he can share his knowledge about how to build a different relationship with unions and management. He said that in Port Moody they worked together with the union and came to council together. Both union and management were part of the presentation to council.

Royer thanked council for “brand new trucks, new carts that are unique, new bear-resistant locks, new drivers, and a new mechanic. That’s a big commitment the city is making.” Royer urged people to show the public what we can do to provide the best service possible. “Go home and tell your family that there are great things happening in Port Moody and more to come.”

CUPE 825 vice-president Paul Leblanc thanked everyone involved in bringing solid waste disposal service back to Port Moody. He congratulated CUPE 825 president Maria Wahl and thanked her for her vision and assistance in bringing all the required parties to the table in order to bring this service back home.

Caring about others in their community is a normal state of affairs for CUPE 825 members. During the celebration, a few homeless people wandered in. They were welcomed, given a seat, and fed a hearty breakfast. After the event, all non-perishable food was donated to the local food bank.

Many Lower Mainland CUPE locals joined in the celebrationsMany Lower Mainland CUPE locals joined in the celebrationsTo view more photos of this event, visit the CUPE National photo gallery

 

 

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