Prior to 1974, the Emergency Service for the Province of British Columbia was provided by a mix of private and public organizations, including funeral businesses and community groups. There was no unity or standardization between these organizations, which led to poor working conditions with low pay. The first meeting in search of a union took place in the former emergency room of the Vancouver General Hospital. The meeting took place between Ben Pietz and Charley Redhead and focused on ways to improve the working conditions of ambulance attendants. Metropolitan Ambulance rescue workers worked 24 hours a day, 24 hours off, and every 4 weeks they worked an extra day. For the work of 86 and a half hours per week, $90.00 was paid to them. The ambulance worked 114 hours a week. After joining the National Union of Public Employees, we received our own premises. Local 873 received its charter in March 1963. After the first contract, the hours were reduced to 56 hours per week and there was a salary increase of $10.00 per week. In 1974, the NDP government created the B.C.
Ambulance Service and it was the members of CUPE Local 873 who were to provide the entire preclinical supply to the province of British Columbia. Today, we have over 4,400 members and it is Brother Ben Pietz and Brother Charley Redhead whom we can thank for the beginnings of world-class service. In search of a union, the National Union of Public Employees was called out, and that was the union we had to join. With the help of Bill Black of Local 180, the Hospital Employees Union, the members were hired. The first members of the Union came from the Metropolitan Ambulance, which served Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster. It quickly spread on the ambulance from Associated to Burnaby and then Richmond, Delta and Surrey Ambulance. The National Union of Public Employees partnered with the National Union of Public Service Employees and CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) was created. The first executive was Brother Ben Pietz, president; Brother John Redekop, Vice President; Brother Charley Redhead, Reception Secretary; Brother Fred Wescott, Secretary-Treasurer. At that time, the Union was made up of about two dozen members and the seniority list was printed on the last page of the Treaty. .