HEU and CUPE members to run in upcoming provincial election

The stakes will be high for health care, labour

B.C. workers have a huge stake in the upcoming provincial election. They know first-hand how government policies on labour and health care can have a direct effect on their lives and those of their families. Five HEU members — with two nominations still to be confirmed — are steppping foward as candidates, as are two CUPE members.

“Both of these unions have a long history of defending the rights of workers and the health care system through the political process,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “It’s only natural that the roster of candidates would include names from HEU and CUPE.”

Erda Walsh, the East Kootenay NDP MLA since 1996, will seek re-election. Before going to Victoria, she worked for several years in the accounting and clerical departments of Cranbrook Regional Hospital and as an ambulance paramedic, therefore holding memberships in both HEU and CUPE. She earned further political experience by serving on Cranbrook City Council.

HEU 3rd vice president Colleen Fitzpatrick has a lengthy record of activism in her union, both on the Provincial Executive and at the Prince Rupert local. As the NDP candidate in B.C.’s North Coast riding, she knows that her party faces an uphill battle in the coming election. She says, however, that she has a lot of faith in Prince Rupert’s strong tradition of labour support.

North Vancouver-Lonsdale NDP candidate Roger Kishi works as a security officer at St. Paul’s Hospital. He doesn’t limit himself to union activism — having served as a local officer and steward at St. Paul’s local — but also sits on North Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Task Force and the Social Planning Advisory Committee. “As a long-time advocate of social justice, human rights and dignity for workers, I feel that I have what it takes to be good MLA,” says Kishi.

Ruth Adams works at Delta Hospital as a materials attendant, and is also waiting for her Delta South NDP nomination to be confirmed on March 29. Adams has been an active local member, both as a shop steward and in the First Nations caucus.

Jaana Grant, who works as a Care Aide at Finnish Care Facilities in Vancouver, is confident her nomination will be confirmed by her Richmond Centre NDP Riding Association on April 5.

Kimberly McIvor — a dietary aide at G.R. Baker Hospital in Quesnel and an HEU member — is running as an independant in the Cariboo North riding, where Frank Garden is the NDP candidate.

CUPE members Ken Landgraff and Simon Challenger are running for the NDP in Coquitlam-Maillardville and Fort Langley-Aldergrove, respectively.