Thursday November 27, 2014

CUPE packs the gallery again

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If you thought it was tough finding a seat at Battlefords North Stars games lately, try North Battleford city council meetings.

Once again, there were few spare seats to be had Monday as several city workers from CUPE Local 287 filled many of the seats in chambers once again.

CUPE members have made a point of coming to council meetings over the past three months. The union had been seeking a new contract for its workers since March 31 of last year, when their old contract with the City expired.

Before last December, it was easy to pick a good seat at the usually sparsely-attended council meetings. Normally, the gallery in council chambers would consist of only a few individuals appearing on issues of importance to them.

However, those interested individuals have had plenty of company in the gallery lately from CUPE members.

The union, which represents about 100 city workers, started their campaign of council meeting attendance back in December as a way to put a human face on their situation and to encourage a settlement. Monday marked the fifth council meeting in the past three months in which city workers have filled the gallery.

CUPE members aren’t the only ones making a point of sitting in on council meetings on a regular basis.

Also attending regularly has been the Battlefords Chamber of Commerce, who have sent at least one representative from their board to sit in at council over the past year.

The Chamber board has made a point of attending council meetings to become better informed on the policies and deliberations of the City, and also to promote a good relationship with City Hall.

Another individual looking on from the gallery at Monday’s meeting was a brand-new city employee.

New Finance Director Matthew Hartney was introduced from the gallery by city manager Jim Toye. Hartney begins his new job March 1.

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