Robinson and Bernardo re-elected by convention delegates

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On day three of HEU’s 27th biennial convention, delegatesre-elected president Ken Robinson(Kelowna local) to a second term and acclaimed financial secretary Donisa Bernardo (Kamloops local) to a third term, aswell as electing a number of other positions to the Provincial Executive(P.E.).

Victor Elkins (PHSA Amalgamated) was re-elected as HEU’s 1stvice-president. Louella Vincent (WHR Lower Mainland) was elected as 2ndvice-president and Carolyn Unsworth(Queens Park) as 3rd vice-president. WinstonClarke (Surrey) was elected to a four-year term as senior trustee-elect, andCarol Kenzie (Kelowna)as trustee. Jacqueline Zilkie (Kaslo) continues on the P.E. as senior trustee.And Judy Darcy was ratified assecretary-business manager, a position she’s held since 2005.

Elections for regional vice-presidents and alternates takeplace Thursday.

Solidarity greetingsfrom CUPE BC

CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill brought greetingsfrom his union’s 85,000 members. “We work side-by-side with you, and for you,in public services across the province... We care about what we do; it’s notjust a paycheque. We’re the recipients of the very services we all provide.”

O’Neill stressed the importance of preserving publicservices like education and health care, encouraging young workers, advocatingfor living wages and safer working conditions, and making governments -particularly at the local level – more accountable to community taxpayers.

“There’s been a vicious attack on workers and workers’ rightthroughout the province for about 11 years now,” said O’Neill. “It’s time forgovernment to be accountable. And we need to make sure that we’re notnegotiating things that we’ve already got at the federal-provincial levels.”

Health care’s link to water

Described by Judy Darcyas a tireless leader and “a great friend to public services and a great friendto public service workers,” Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians’ nationalchairperson, delivered a well-received, informative speech on water, humanrights and health care.

“We’ve been fighting the ravages and threat to health caretogether for a long time,” said Barlow, “and I pledge to continue to worktogether to preserve our wonderful health care system.”

She spoke about “private greed” and how privatizationimpacts public services, such as health care, education and water. “There is awater crisis coming to a community near you… In this country, we have a myth ofabundance.

“Water is a health care issue because lack of access toclean water is the single biggest killer of children in third world countries…If you care about health, you have to care about water. We call ourselves water warriors’.”

CUPE National president Paul Moist received a warm welcomeas he congratulated HEU members for their work on several campaigns,namely the union’s Living Wage and Stand UP for Seniors’ Care campaigns, andcondemned the “cannibalism and contract-flipping” in B.C.’s long-term caresystem that “means less care for seniors and more attacks on workers’ wages andbenefits.”

He also pressed home the importance of expanding CanadaPension Plan benefits. “Canadians are entitled to dignity in retirement,” hesaid. “We want action. We are demanding fair pensions for all Canadians.”

Referencing CUPE National’s Year of the Steward, Moist toldconvention activists, “You are the bedrock of your union. There’s no CUPE,there’s no HEU without the people on the shop floor who stand up to the boss.”

Women’s gatheringshines light on equality issues

About 300 women assembled for convention’s traditionalwomen’s gathering early in the morning to share breakfast, conversation, andhear from two guest speakers.

Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator of First Call: BCChild and Youth Advocacy Coalition, spoke about how structural inequality in Canada keepswomen and their children living in poverty.

She said that sixty per cent of minimum-wage earners in Canada arewomen, and women are concentrated in low-wage occupations.

Daisy Kler, from Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter,reminded her audience that a woman is raped in Canada every 17 minutes.

“Although the battle is long and hard,” she said, “there areconstant victories. Every woman who leaves an abusive man is a small victoryand an example to many others.”

On behalf of the union, HEU financial secretary Donisa Bernardo thanked guests, and applauded LowerMainland musical act The Shirleys for opening and closing the event with theirinspirational lyrics and awesomely flawless harmonies.

Delegates unanimousin their support for updated bargaining structure

In an evening session, delegates passed a sweepingconstitutional amendment that modernizes the union’s bargaining structure. Thechanges reflect the fact that one in four HEU members now works under anagreement outside the facilities contract.

The amendment provides a process for holding bargainingconferences and choosing bargaining committees for all HEU sectors.