PRINCE GEORGE—CUPE members from the College of New Caledonia celebrated their first anniversary this week with a barbecue. The 378 post-secondary workers joined CUPE on September 24th last year.
CUPE 4951 president Lily Bachand welcomed members and guests from other post-secondary institutions and CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.
Earlier in the day, National staff representatives and O’Neill had a tour of the College and enjoyed a delicious lunch at Kodiaks Restaurant on campus — prepared by CUPE 4951 members. The lunch was an opportunity for the Local’s executive, College of New Caledonia executive and O’Neill to get acquainted.
Members of CUPE’s Colleges and Universities Committees were in town for sectoral meetings and joined in the celebration. Pam Catsirelis, CUPE 2773 (College of the Rockies) president said that the meetings went well. “We talked about similarities. I think it will be a productive alliance – we were really pleased.”
Universities Committee chair Doug Sprenger echoed the sentiment. “We’re making renewed and expanded efforts to protect public post-secondary education.”
At the barbecue Bachand introduced O’Neill. O’Neill said it was a pleasure to be in Prince George. He told CUPE 4951 members that they are “truly an asset to our organization.”
O’Neill commented on the media he did while in Prince George and told members that what unions do isn’t always about collective agreements. “We live here. We care about where we live. We want our children to have a good life and live in our community,” said O’Neill.
O’Neill told the crowd that CUPE members could contribute more because they are part of the labour movement. He talked about the “Ten Per Cent Shift”, a major campaign that CUPE BC will be launching soon.
O’Neill hopes that the business community will be a full partner in this strategy to develop new income streams for communities.
“We have the ability to make it happen,” said O’Neill. “If there was a group of people that could make a difference in this province, it’s our organization.”
Bachand noted that the visit reaffirmed to their executive and members that the decision to join CUPE was the right one. “We’re proud of our decision to join CUPE and the relationships we have built with other post-secondary workers,” said Bachand.
Listen to Barry O’Neill’s September 28 interview on Ben Meisner’s radio show.
View the interview clip on CKPG.