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Building a strong foundation to win

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OPSEU’s leaders examined the crucial role of equity groups in successful union campaigns as part of the union’s 17th annual Joint Leadership Day.

The September 24th event in Toronto brought together Executive Board Members, chairs of OPSEU equity committees and caucuses, plus sector and ministry chairs from the Ontario Public Services and the Broader Public Service.

The Joint Leadership Day is part of OPSEU’s commitment to integrate equity issues into all aspects of its work. This year’s theme was “Together to win – are we together?” The event was facilitated by organizers of the Fifteen and Fairness Campaign.  It also included a presentation by Graybridge Malkam, the firm doing the Social Mapping survey and systems review.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas told participants that equity and diversity represent the strength of the union and are key to a winning strategy.

“This year’s event titled, ‘Together to Win: Are We Together?’ is hard-hitting, but it’s an important question,” said Thomas.  

“In order for us to come together as a united front, we need to create spaces like this where we can talk openly, about our successes but also where we can do even better.”

Organizers from Fifteen and Fairness shared strategies and brought us back to basics of relationship-building and the daily, often unrecognized work of organizing a long-term campaign.  Deena Ladd, Executive Director of the Workers’ Action Centre spoke of equity as the strong foundation of any successful campaign. 

“There is no shortcut.  Organizing to win requires a long-term organizing strategy based on thousands of daily conversations among a diverse group of people,” Ladd told the OPSEU leaders.

 “When the members tell us that they feel more powerful as a group after a campaign than before the campaign, then we know we were successful.”

First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says building equity into campaigns is not only the right thing to do but can also reverse the damage of cuts to public services by Doug Ford. 

“OPSEU is a big ship and change doesn’t always happen overnight. But by working together, we will get to where we want to be.”