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Vision Vancouver wins union campaign funding

Vision Vancouver wanted to ban political donations from unions, but four of its candidates sought money and votes from the city’s outside workers on Oct. 14.
COPE council candidate Tim Louis leaves a meeting of CUPE Local 1004 Tuesday following a pitch by several parties to the union for financial support. Photo: Bob Mackin

Vision Vancouver wanted to ban political donations from unions, but four of its candidates sought money and votes from the city’s outside workers on Oct. 14.

According to a leaked recording of CUPE Local 1004’s monthly meeting, Councillors Geoff Meggs and Raymond Louie and Vancouver park board commissioners Trevor Loke and Niki Sharma showered the union with praise.

“We feel a strong partnership with the members of ‘Ten-04,’ we know that without your contribution, the city would function very poorly, if at all,” Meggs told the meeting of about 40 members in the Maritime Labour Centre Auditorium. “Gregor Robertson, our mayor, has again recommitted to not expand contracting out, to make sure that wherever we can bring in new processes, that members of ‘Ten-04’ will be there delivering those services.”

The Vision Vancouver majority city council gave the 1,600 streets, sanitation and parks workers in Local 1004 a 6.75 per cent wage hike over four years in early 2013. That followed the 2012 contracting-out of resource management services at the city’s corporate facilities to Waste Management for $1.024 million.

School board candidates Jane Bouey and Gwen Giesbrecht of Public Education Project (PEP) followed the Vision quartet. COPE city council candidate Gayle Gavin was first up and slammed Vision’s move to centralize community centre governance. “We deserve our leisure time and when we have a government that will kick associations out of the community centres — community is the word of community centres — I knew that I had made the right decision to throw my hat in the ring,” Gavin said.

Those in attendance approved a $34,000 donation to Vision from a $70,000 political action fund. Matching by CUPE’s national and B.C. headquarters means it will total $102,000. The new OneCity party didn’t send a speaker to the meeting, but Local 1004 pledged $8,000. COPE and PEP are to get $5,000 each. Local 1004 also earmarked $10,000 for member book-offs to work on campaigns and $8,000 for advertising. Local 1004 affirmed its support for the Vancouver and District Labour Council’s endorsements.

Frank Lee, chair of Local 1004’s eight-member political action committee, said that the union fears an NPA win in the Nov. 15 election would mean Toronto-style tax and service cuts.

“We want to see Vision in there, obviously that’s where the bulk of the money is going,” Lee said. “It is still early in the campaign, but we certainly will have to nail (Vision) in terms of protecting our jobs and try not to have any contracting-out happening.”

He said OneCity is getting more than COPE, because “they may grow to the point where COPE will no longer be around.”

An unidentified female member warned the meeting that the Green Party is “fairly conservative fiscally” and that committee’s strategy is also meant to “displace” its leader, Coun. Adriane Carr.

The goal, she said, is “to carry favour with Vision in the next round of negotiations which... are coming up, but also not give them the whole pie. Our support is not unconditional.”

Local 1004’s contract expires Dec. 31, 2015.

After its 2011 re-election, Vision Vancouver reported receiving $245,250 from various arms of CUPE, including $42,000 from Local 1004.

Vision Coun. Andrea Reimer unsuccessfully led a late January push to lobby the provincial government to enact a made-in-Vancouver ban on corporate and union donations, among other limits. Carr’s April motion for a voluntary ban was rejected.

Vancouver city clerk Janice MacKenzie advised city council that voluntary limits would be “not enforceable in any manner.”