April 3, 2014
Pictured above: The second group of participants gather after being sworn in and receiving their certificates of completion from First Vice President/Treasurer Almeida.
Two committed groups of new local presidents recently gathered at OPSEU’s head office on March 20 and 21 and on March 24 and 25. They explored new leadership strategies and discovered resources available from OPSEU to support them in their new duties. All seven regions of OPSEU were represented, with participants from the OPS, BPS, and Corrections, including one president from a local whose members had recently voted to join OPSEU.
Participants were introduced to a number of representatives from head office, who discussed how the activities of their departments could assist the new presidents in strengthening their locals. A range of topics were presented, including grievances, local finances, health and safety, negotiations and effective communication among others.
Throughout the course, the new presidents participated in a number of group activities involving real-work scenarios which raised important issues on the subjects of human rights, health and safety, harassment and the duty to accommodate. Participants had the opportunity to share their success stories and network with their fellow presidents.
Recognizing that the key to an effective local is a robust steward structure, the new presidents affirmed the necessity of recruiting committed members who reflect the diversity of their workplaces.
Participants identified these essential characteristics of good leaders within their locals:
- A good listener
- Leads by example
- Problem solver
- Sees the big picture
- Effective communicator
Having identified the necessary qualities, the new presidents explored strategies for recruiting leaders into their locals:
- Know your people personally
- Recruit people with skills needed in the local
- Send an email out highlighting what skills are needed
- Put onus on members bringing forth complaints to take responsibility
- Ask them to review their collective agreement and show you the violation
- Ask for help in specific areas and see who want to take the offer e.g. information stewards
Participants also developed strategies to gain management respect:
- Making sure the job is getting done
- Show respect and have it reciprocated
- Be knowledgeable on the collective agreement and violations
- Be assertive and professional in meetings e.g. labour management committees
- Know your rights
Finally, the new local presidents exchanged strategies to challenge unfair management practices:
- Have the “right” person in the local leadership role
- Clarify what the issues really are
- Employ one-on-one discussions when appropriate
- Use the labour management committee to mediate disputes
- Pursue Health and Safety issues and involve the Ministry of Labour if necessary
- Use grievances, days of action, and working to order to build local solidarity
Pictured above: The first group of participants gather after being sworn in and receiving their certificates of completion from First Vice President/Treasurer Almeida
Pictured above: Members of the second group of participants work on a course exercise
Pictured above: A member from the first group of participants receives her certificate of completion from First Vice President/Treasurer Almeida