BURNABY—This year’s Fall CUPE Education school was the largest group in the Parksville school history with 115 members participating in the weeklong educational.
All the workshops were filled to capacity, with almost 50 percent more members than last year.
“In the last couple of years, the demand for Parksville weeklong school has grown exponentially,” said Ruth Scher, CUPE's Education Representative and Parksville Registrar. “We are so pleased that so many of our locals consider CUPE Education a top priority."
Both CUPE BC President Mark Hancock and CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Paul Faoro addressed the school. Faoro awarded seven local scholarships to CUPE locals, and several more travel and small local subsidies.
Hancock gave a rousing speech about the attacks unions are facing from federal and provincial governments. He outlined CUPE’s response to the attacks, and urged members to get involved politically and with the Unite for Fairness project. He added a plea in support of locked out workers at the North Shore Winter Club and IKEA.
“We need to respect picket lines. We do not cross them,” said Hancock. “But more than that, we need to talk to our friends, our neighbours and our families about the importance of respecting workers in a labour dispute, and the importance of the labour movement to improving the lives of all workers, unionized or not.”
There were two new workshops piloted at the school. The new Health and Safety course on assisting CUPE members facing workplace stress and mental health issues was well received. Participants recognized the vital importance of this topic in our workplaces.
Union activists who wanted to build deeper connections with their members took the "Connecting with Members" course which gave an in-depth look at how to push back against attacks on unions through the Unite for Fairness project.
There was also record turnout for the combined Introduction to Stewarding and 4 Steward Learning Series with 37 participants. Workshops on Duty to Accommodate and Conflict Resolution rounded out the schedule.
The weeklong school ended with a note of solidarity, with Parksville participants and facilitators raising $460 for the North Shore Winter Club workers (CUPE 389) and the IKEA Richmond workers (Teamsters 213) who have been locked out by their intransigent employers for many months.