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Leading CUPE 900 into a new year

Union representing city workers has a new president
COK parks staffHORIZ
Tyler Esser, [left], and Al Shoemaker, parks and recreation attendants with the City of Kamloops, move throughout Riverside Park performing their nightly cleanup duties ensuring a spotless park for next day visitors.

CUPE Local 900, representing workers at organizations including the City of Kamloops, Thompson Nicola Regional District and Kamloops Golf and Country Club, is starting the year with a new president. Ken Davis has a degree in environmental science and previously worked as an environmental co-ordinator for the City of Kamloops. He was shop steward, a member of the bargaining committee and vice-president (a voluntary gig) before eventually replacing in December of 2021 former CUPE 900 president Carmen Sullivan, who moved to the Lower Mainland to take on a new position as a national rep with a focus on libraries.

Davis said the pandemic has been difficult for everybody, including workers. He touted the city’s vaccination policy for including a rapid-testing option in order to keep employees working. Davis said it impacted fewer than 50 members.

“We were happy that there was ultimately some flexibility and some options there for people who were refusing not to get vaccinated, that also simultaneously ensured the health and safety of others that were working,” Davis said.

Virtual meetings were among innovations during the pandemic. Davis said Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been utilized. He said leeway has been provided for people to work from home, as much as possible, in order to reduce the number of people in each work environment. Modifications to start times have also occurred.

“A lot of employees have been really happy with those types of agreements,” Davis said.

As pandemic restrictions ease, Davis said conversations have continued to centre around following public health orders and easing restrictions as the province states it is safe to do so. He said it is a “delicate balancing act” getting people back to normal and putting safety first. In 2022, the city and union are going to arbitration over restructuring of the city’s bylaws department. Active bargaining is underway in Ashcroft and with Kamloops Golf and Country Club. Following that, bargaining will begin for workers at the BC Wildlife Park and Rayleigh Waterworks District.