RCMP 'union in waiting' opens first office in Canada
RCMP members' struggle to unionize has been going on for decades
One of the groups hoping to become the union bargaining for RCMP members now has an actual office in Surrey — the first to be set up in Canada.
The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC) opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday.
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It's a humble office, little more than a small room with a desk for national president Rae Banwarie, a board room and some common space shared with other tenants in the building at 74 Avenue and King George Boulevard.
"A lot of members are uncomfortable talking about their workplace issues in the workplace, so this is an office where our president will set up shop … if members want to come by and discuss some things," said Rob Creasser, a retired Mountie from Kamloops, who serves as MPPAC media liaison.
"We're not just trying to go out and certify. We're actually showing that we can do what a collective group can do and that's help their members and this is the start," said Creasser.
"We needed an office and now we have our first and it's going to be the first of several right across Canada."
Creasser said Surrey was selected as the location, because it's home to the largest RCMP's detachment in Canada, and B.C. has about a third of Canada's Mounties. He said offices are being discussed for Winnipeg and New Brunswick as well.
In January 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that RCMP members could form a union, striking down a law that specifically forbade it.
"There's 227 different police agencies in Canada. Two hundred and twenty-six of them have the right to collectively bargain with their employer, and I think that helps explain some of the turmoil the media has found out about," said Creasser, referring to the harassment allegations by female Mounties and a class action lawsuit against the force.
Banwarie said the group's roots go back more than 20 years, beginning as a regional organization before morphing into the MPPAC.
"It's a long time, but you know what? Nothing good ever comes easy," he said, adding that the effort to sign up 40 per cent of the RCMP's roughly 22,000 members, required to apply for certification has been going well.
"Members are joining us in large numbers every day," he said. "Before the end of this year, you will see an application for certification from our association."
Creasser said he expects the federal government to table the necessary legislation to clear the way for the union this spring.
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