NDP candidate Judy Darcy steps down as Hospital Employees' Union chief negotiator


Just over a week after Judy Darcy was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in New Westminster, she has announced her resignation from the Hospital Employees' Union.

Darcy has been secretary-business manager and chief negotiator for the health-care union since 2005. Before that, she spent 13 years as national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Her resignation from the HEU takes effect on September 12.

Barring a collapse in NDP support provincewide, Darcy is a virtual shoo-in to win in New Westminster in the 2013 election.

Despite her lack of legislative experience, she has a very good chance of joining cabinet should the NDP form the next government under Adrian Dix.

As the president of CUPE, Darcy worked with Dix's chief of staff, Stephen Howard, on campaigns against the Campbell government's privatization of health services. Howard is a former HEU staffer.

Darcy, unlike many members of the NDP caucus, also publicly supported Dix in the party's leadership race. She's knowledgeable about the issues and very adept at dealing with the media.

One organization that might not be thrilled with Darcy joining cabinet is the B.C. Nurses' Union. Its president, Debra McPherson, has made no secret of her wish to negotiate contracts for all nurses, including those who belong to the HEU.

In 2009, the BCNU failed in an attempt to certify licensed practical nurses who belong to the HEU and B.C. Government and Services Employees' Union.

Howard has also worked for the BCGEU. And a former BCGEU president, George Heyman, is a frontrunner to become the NDP candidate in Vancouver-Fairview, which is a winnable seat.

That's the same consituency where Darcy narrowly lost an NDP nomination fight in 2004 against Gregor Robertson, who went on to become mayor of Vancouver.

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

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