CUPE Weeklong School - Kelowna
Attendees – David Robertson, Don Currie, Donna Murray
Author David Robertson – Bargaining
I recently attended the CUPE Education weeklong spring school in Kelowna, which consisted of 4 different available courses. We sent 3 members to this school including Don Currie who took the Political Action course, Donna Murray who took the Shop Stewart course and myself who took the bargaining course.
When discussing attendance to this CUPE program no one on the current executive board could remember a time when we actually sent one of our members to this school and as such we had little information as to the relevance of this program. So the intent of going wasn’t just to learn about a couple of education topics but to also see how relevant the courses are to our local. All three of us were tasked with not only writing a report on what they learned but also to comment on the relevance and the reports are as follows:
As we are in the midst of bargaining with the employer I felt that this was going to be a timely program to attend. I spent 4 and a half days with 15 other CUPE members from across the province with varying degrees of bargaining experience doing teamwork activities as well as going through a mock bargaining process which included several twists, turns and surprises all designed to see how each of us would react to being put on the spot and/or how we would go on attack. The group activities were often fun and energetic which quickly galvanized the class together to form a very good learning environment.
The basics of the mock process consisted of half the class playing the employer with the other half playing the union. The basic sessions almost mirrored that of our own bargaining process which was comforting in that it confirms that our process is within the norm. Although the twists and turns were not directly applicable to our local I found that it was good practice to not only see how to handle bargaining ‘bombs’ but also how to use them for your own gains.
I think that this would be a very good course for those members who are chosen to be one of the bargaining committee members and have very little experience at the table.
With regards to the weeklong school I would have to say one of the important aspects of attending is to network and gain connections with not only other CUPE members but also with CUPE staff and elected leadership. Although the number of CUPE reps and elected officials were limited I felt that we were successful in raising the level of awareness of our local. It does seem that our activities over the past few years are paying off as I was approached by a member from another local who positively commented on what a couple of our members had said at the floor of the CUPE BC convention.