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Anti-Selinger faction in CUPE

Members plan to defy union, citing premier's woes

Greg  Selinger

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Greg Selinger

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/2/2015 (1268 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Some members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees say they plan to defy their union and vote for anyone but Greg Selinger.

The union endorses Selinger as NDP leader, and some say it has gone so far as to deny delegate status to members if they admit they'd rather vote for another candidate.

One CUPE local president said he is ignoring the executive endorsement altogether and plans to vote for challenger Theresa Oswald.

CUPE Local 4270 president Darrin Cook, whose local represents about 2,000 health-care workers in the Southern Regional Health Authority, said Selinger is too damaged to lead the party anymore.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/2/2015 (1268 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Some members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees say they plan to defy their union and vote for anyone but Greg Selinger.

The union endorses Selinger as NDP leader, and some say it has gone so far as to deny delegate status to members if they admit they'd rather vote for another candidate.

One CUPE local president said he is ignoring the executive endorsement altogether and plans to vote for challenger Theresa Oswald.

CUPE Local 4270 president Darrin Cook, whose local represents about 2,000 health-care workers in the Southern Regional Health Authority, said Selinger is too damaged to lead the party anymore.

"All of CUPE is not supporting any one particular candidate," Cook said Wednesday. "There are large pockets of Theresa supporters."

Cook said one reason he and his local's delegates support Oswald is health-care support workers have gone three years without a collective agreement.

"My members are not happy with the current situation, and the blame has to fall on the leader," Cook said. "When a team is not doing well, you typically change the coach or the manager, and in this case it would be the leader."

Cook said the local can send 20 delegates to the March 8 NDP leadership vote but will likely be unable to fill all spots.

The deadline for all affiliated unions to submit their delegate lists to the party was the end of the business day Wednesday. The unions are eligible to have 691 delegates, but a number of positions will not be filled. The spots are non-transferable, so they cease to exist if unfilled by the deadline.

CUPE is eligible to send 288 delegates, and the United Food and Commercial Workers can send 160. Officials from both unions declined to say how many allotted spots will go unused in their respective unions.

CUPE Manitoba president Kelly Moist says Greg Selinger (top) has the best shot in the next election.

TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN FILES

CUPE Manitoba president Kelly Moist says Greg Selinger (top) has the best shot in the next election.

Kelly Moist, president of CUPE Manitoba, has said the union endorsed Selinger because he is the best candidate to guide the party into the next election in April 2016.

"While all members have the right to vote for whomever they support, CUPE Manitoba encourages members to seriously consider Greg Selinger's proven record in support of labour," Moist said previously.

She declined comment on Wednesday.

Cook said if Selinger is not replaced, the NDP is likely doomed, and Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister and his official Opposition will form the next government.

Cook is not the only CUPE member speaking out against his union's endorsement of Selinger.

CUPE Local 1063 member Wade Derkson said Wednesday he also supports Oswald and might support Thompson MLA Steve Ashton depending on the outcome of the first ballot on March 8.

"I'm in the 'anybody but Greg' camp," Derkson said. "He's guaranteed to serve up a Tory majority. Theresa is the only chance to even compete."

Derkson said he tried to get one of six delegate positions allotted to his local to attend the convention, but was initially denied because he supported Oswald. He later won a delegate spot as a constituency delegate in River Heights.

"I wouldn't call it whipping the vote," Derkson said of his union's reluctance toward him as a CUPE delegate. "They're trying to send only Greg supporters.

"If we let the union bosses dictate what should happen, that's just moving backwards."

CUPE Local 1063 president Dennis Kshyk made no apologies for following his union's endorsement of Selinger in picking potential delegates.

"We're hoping the members take the advice of the executive," Kshyk said. "It's like anything else — you want to be able to try and have as many people on your side as possible. You try to recruit as many people as possible to vote for you versus your opposition. That's the end game of politics — trying to get your person in."

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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