Almost 150 recreation and culture workers in Langley Township have joined the CUPE 403 union local after a vote, the union announced on June 10.
“CUPE 403 is so happy to welcome our newest members,” said Local 403 president Sara Manchester. “Particularly in these uncertain and challenging times, these workers need access to the same resources and protections that all our members have.”
The 147 new members join following a campaign that included “innovative” ways to reach out to the workers, due to the pandemic guidelines, Manchester said.
It took just a couple of weeks to get enough potential members to sign union cards to trigger the vote process, but because an in-person vote couldn’t be held on whether to join the union, a four-week mail-in ballot process took place.
The rec and culture workers joining the union include Zumba and yoga instructors, employees at the Langley Centennial Museum, and swimming instructors who train life guards and first aid courses.
While they are now unionized, many of the employees remain laid off. The Township sent many of its rec workers home in March because pools, arenas, and rec centres are closed due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions on gatherings.
There are now more than 1,250 Township employees who are unionized, including road and park workers, RCMP civilian clerical workers, and employees in municipal services such as planning and bylaws.
Manchester said this means that almost all non-management workers who are paid by the Township are unionized, with the exception of on-call firefighters.