CUPE BC gets rural voice from Grand Forks

Grand Forks resident, Susan Blair, has been elected to be one of four general vice-presidents for CUPE BC.

Susan Blair was recently elected to be one of four general vice-presidents for CUPE BC.

Susan Blair says she really enjoys representing the members of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) and solving puzzles that involve issues for working people in general.

So her recent election as one of four general vice-presidents to CUPE BC, the province’s largest union sector, on April 13 is fitting for this Grand Forks educational assistant.

Blair has been a long-serving regional vice-president for CUPE BC and has been the president of her local union, CUPE 2098 (Boundary Schools), for 14 years.

“I have taken the next step on the executive, I have been the regional vice-president for the Kootenays for the last 13 years and I felt it was time to step up into a new position.”

Janet Thorpe, president of CUPE local 2098 (Boundary Schools), said that Blair has been very active, involved and an effective union member, local president and regional vice-president.

“She is a terrific union activist,” said Thorpe. “She was born to do the job.”

Blair believes her new position will give CUPE BC a broader scope as two of the general vice-presidents are from Vancouver and the other is from Vancouver Island.

“I think it will give the Interior of B.C. a strong voice on the executive, because I have a rural perspective,” she said.

One of the issues that she is determined to bring to the province deals with workers who may make a decent hourly wage, but don’t work enough to properly support their family.

“There are a lot of people and not just CUPE members, a lot of people who don’t work enough to be able to provide for themselves and their families,” she said.

Another topic of local importance is, what she refers to as a 10 per cent shift.

“That’s shifting and encouraging people, community members, not just union members, people in their communities to shift 10 per cent of their income spending to their own communities,” said Blair. “It makes quite a remarkable difference to the local communities, keeping that money at home.”

Blair’s new role will mean that she is working under a much larger scope and covering all union sectors across the province from municipal to schools, social services to libraries.

“I will be representing groups of people instead of single issues,” she said. “We don’t just work for our own members, we try and solve problems for working people generally.”

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