CUPE organizing bylaws, wastewater treatment plant staff A hearing in Vancouver today will determine whether the Canadian Union of Public Employees can represent Whistler’s municipal Bylaw Department and staff at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Clive Lyttle, information officer with the Labour Relations Board, says the certification hearing, set for 9:30 a.m. this morning, will evaluate the validity of the CUPE certification drive underway within the 17-member bylaw department and the wastewater plant, which has nine staff. According to Lyttle, the certification hearing looks at three issues: is the union legal in B.C., is the bargaining unit applied for appropriate for collective bargaining and does the union have the necessary support for certification. The first part is relatively elementary, says Lyttle, as CUPE is the largest public sector union in Canada with 465,000 members across Canada and over 100,000 members in B.C. The second, usually deals with whether or not either side believes some of the staff are in fact management. The third, and most contentious test, deals with the automatic certification of the union if 55 per cent or more of the bargaining unit sign a union card. If 45-55 per cent of the bargaining unit sign a card a "supervised vote" must be held, says Lyttle. "The motives of the union move are irrelevant at the hearing," says Lyttle. "The application is evaluated on a set of criteria… the process is very streamlined." Whistler Mayor Ted Nebbeling, who cannot comment during a certification drive under B.C.’s labour laws, could only verify that CUPE was in fact attempting to unionize the two departments. Bob Fifik, B.C. regional organizer with CUPE, says the union has received positive support from staff within the Bylaw department and at the wastewater treatment plant. "At this point in time we have applied to certify those two departments," Fifik says. "We do plan on continuing to organize other departments at the RMOW." Previous efforts to unionize all municipal staff at once have failed.


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