Racialized members of OPSEU participated in the weekend training on “Deconstructing Racism” hosted by the Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW) and facilitated by Jean Samuel, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant. The weekend helped members deepen their knowledge and understanding of the impacts of individual, cultural, societal, as well as systemic and structural racism, and in particular, anti-black racism. As facilitator, Jean Samuel “felt privileged and honoured to be a part of this historic occasion, the first time racialized members of OPSEU came together as a group to develop tools and learn strategies to deal with the daily microagressions that impact their lives and to identify and chip away at the source of these microagressions.”
CoRW Chair Peter Thompson reminded the participants that “this is only the beginning of a long-term strategic plan that will strengthen the union on a foundation of human rights.” The Coalition is hosting a follow-up Human Rights Advisor training on November 1-3, 2019 that will provide additional tools for racialized members to use to ensure that anti-racism policies in the Union and the workplace are promoted and enforced so that all workers can thrive in a diverse and inclusive environment. “These trainings are laying the groundwork for new racialized leaders to claim their seat at the table in a way that honours the experiences of racialized people and provides strategies to move forward,” adds Kola Iluyomade, Region 5 CoRW Chair.
The OPSEU Harassment and Discrimination Policy (HDPP) recognizes that “OPSEU has a long tradition of struggle to end harassment and discrimination. The Union recognizes that equity issues are central to representing and defending members’ rights in the workplace, Union and community. Harassment and discrimination create a climate of intolerance and division among the membership. By eroding our unity and strength, they can weaken our effectiveness at the bargaining table, in the workplace, on the picket line and in the community. Our ability as Union activists and representatives to respond effectively to situations of harassment and discrimination is essential to building OPSEU’s strength.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas congratulated members on a successful training event and said “our union is committed to ending racism and discrimination. This training series will represent the best of OPSEU’s past and provide us with a blueprint for moving forward together.”