November 18th, 2019 update CUPE 3799

First thing right off the bat – a big clarification needs to be made with regards to the cheque presented to CUPE Local 3799 from the Faculty Association. I have been overwhelmed by email and I totally understand why. My statement below was not clear. My mind was thinking one way, but I understand why the intent of the statement made was misconstrued.  What I stated was: ”On Friday, the Faculty Association presented a cheque to CUPE Local 3799 for the amount of $10,000.00. This money will be evenly distributed to those members who have been on the picket line for the first 6 active days of picket duty, 10 days in total since day #1. “

What my intention was in making this statement is different and I didn’t really see that until I started receiving emails in from people clarifying what I stated.

What I should have stated is: “The money will be evenly distributed to those members who have been on the picket line. We have been on the picket line actively for 6 days now or 10 days in total since day #1 of job action.” And yes, I am clear on the language and the distinction between the two statements.

In other words. If you have picketed prior to the first strike pay being issued this Friday (cut off on Thursday), you will be counted and included in receiving your allotment of that share of money from the Faculty Association. There is no requirement that you need to be on the line for the first six days, or ten days, or anything else. There is no requirement that you are on the picket line for X number of days either. If you have actively done even one 4 hour shift, you will be qualified to receive a share of that money.

The reason for not pro-rating strike pay based on days on the line – you then need a group who decides what qualifies as a legitimate exemption from receiving a pro-rated share. It becomes far too complicated very quickly, and you are leaving decisions to people to decide what is acceptable for exemption and what is not. That is not equality when it comes to dividing up these funds. The spirit of the donation from the Faculty Association is a sign of appreciation for members actively picketing. If you have picketed, you will get a share, on this coming Friday’s cheque – that’s it, that’s all.

I hope that clears that matter up and I do apologize for being vague, when I was trying to be very clear.

The next big issue before us as a union – “why are we supporting the FA when they  . . . .” please add “X” action, Y “statement”, of Z “rationale” to that statement.

As a union, we support our fellow unions – its what we do as unionist. That does not mean that we blindly follow or agree with actions or statements made. I personally have already called the Faculty Association to task with a situation. The Faculty Association in turn addressed the matter and dealt with it to my satisfaction. The Faculty Association are a large body, just as CUPE 3799 are. We cannot allow the actions of one or two members acting outside the norm to dictate what the norm is and how we related to it as union supporters.

I know this past weekend, things heated up and the Twitter world was on fire. I don’t personally prescribe to Twitter as I really don’t need to know the thoughts and actions of any one, or any group, 24 hours a day. Even though I work in IT, I just don’t want that much social media in my life. Members of the Faculty Association posted comments that were not appropriate or acceptable to CUPE 3799 members and I get that. I can’t tell the membership to cross the picket  line because someone behaved inappropriately. This stuff happens and we need to realize that comments made by some do not represent the entire union body’s sentiments.

As CUPE, we do prescribe to a certain code or respect in the way we deal with people and I’m really glad to hear that  most of our Local understand that statement. Union solidarity is based on larger groups, not individuals.

The Faculty Association should be held to a higher standard, and I agree to that. But I cannot condone throwing union ideology completely out the window because one or two radicals really get under our skin. We are better than that as unionists and as CUPE 3799 members.

Once again, this job action is under the control of the Faculty Association, it’s up to the Faculty Association to address these issues and concerns.

While some focus on the Faculty and how they are falling down, I am looking at Unite Here, Local 40 on the first picket line in UNBC history and saying “look at that!!”. I am looking at CUPE 2278 TAs who stand by us everyday trying to figure stuff out and learning from us regarding what unions are all about and how they work through things like this Twitter mess.

Look to the positive and see what is happening on our campus and not being tweeted.

We are a strong Local, we are leaders and we are making changes slowly but surely to union activity on campus by our actions and our support.

It is my hope, that if/when we get to the same point in our own negotiations somewhere down the road, where things just really start to break down – that the FA, CUPE 2278 and Unite Here, Local 40 will be on our lines and not second guessing what someone from our Local posts or tweets, when they are deciding whether they support union action as a whole or quit and walk across our picket line because some CUPE member said something they shouldn’t have. I think we are better than that, and smarter than that. We as a collective are really strong.

We are planning on having a meeting on Thursday evening, 7:00 p.m. to have some discussion on matters such as this. Let this serve as 24 hours’ notice of the meeting. We are currently securing a location and will advise as we get plans finalized.

We have some support from CUPE BC coming up to the lines over the next two days. Tomorrow, Rolanda Lavelle will arrive. Rolanda is an alternate Regional Vice President (RVP) of CUPE BC. She services the northern region as a rep from our area. Dale and I will be bringing Rolanda around to meet you on campus and down at WIDC. Out in Terrace, Rolanda is more than willing to come visit you next week if we are still out.

We also have a CUPE BC General Vice President coming up to our lines. Karen Ranalletta will be on our campus and down at WIDC on Wednesday. Karen is an amazing person and will be looking to speak to people on the line, along with Rolanda, to get a voice back down to CUPE BC Division. (yes, I sent an email to CUPE BC asking for CUPE BC people to come up and visit our lines – yesterday!) If you haven’t met Rolanda or Karen before, you are up to a treat. These two are amazing people and I welcome them to our lines.

We will go one day longer, than the management bargaining team – we are stronger, as unionist combined not divided.

Respectfully & in solidarity,


Caroline Sewell


CUPE Local 3799

University of Northern

British Columbia

What have you done in your union to raise a member up? If not you, then who??