CUPE’s emergency dispatchers reborn as Local 8911
VANCOUVER— More than twenty years after being brought into the Canadian Union of Public Employees as a sub-local of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873), B.C.’s 9-1-1 call-takers, emergency dispatchers and their support staff have been reborn as a brand new, standalone CUPE local.
Now known as CUPE Local 8911 – Emergency Communications Professionals of British Columbia (ECPBC), this newly chartered local represents nearly 600 communications professionals who provide call-taking and dispatch services, information technology, and support services to 34 police agencies and 40 fire departments, as well as 99 per cent of initial 9-1-1 call response in B.C.
“On behalf of the members of CUPE Local 8911, we want to thank our parent local, CUPE 873, for bringing us into the labour movement and supporting us over the past two decades, and for helping us build the capacity to stand as our own CUPE local,” said CUPE 8911 President Donald Grant.
“While our members now belong to separate locals, we look forward to working with ambulance paramedics, police, fire, and all first responders, along with all CUPE members, as we continue the fight to improve social and economic conditions for all workers in B.C. and beyond.”
Grant cited the expansion of emergency communications services in recent years, and the unique working environment of 9-1-1 call centres, as the main reasons members voted for self-advocacy through their own CUPE local. While carrying over the collective agreement of its predecessor, CUPE 873-02, the new Local will continue tackling major issues such as increased call volumes, workload stress, understaffing, and underfunding of the service.
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders in the near future to provide a fully funded emergency response service that meets the needs of British Columbians while recognizing the critical importance of our members’ work,” said Grant.