Convention Update Day 3 – April 16, 2016

Large group of OPSEU members in the stands at a Blue Jays game.

Little progress made in reducing gender wage gap, PWC told

It’s 2016. Women are participating in the labour market in record numbers. Wages are very slowly rising, but the gap between what women earn and what men earn isn’t narrowing. If fact, it may be increasing in some instances.

That was the stark message delivered on Friday to a packed breakfast meeting organized by OPSEU’s provincial women’s committee, by one of Canada’s leading experts on gender wage parity.

“By any measure and in every major category – age, occupational group, public or private sector or age cohort – women still earn, on average, 30 per cent less than men,” Osgoode Hall law professor and social justice advocate Fay Faraday told the group.

Faraday described the gap by different measurements – all of which paint pictures of women on a treadmill in the race to catch up to wages paid to men.

A woman would need to work to the age of 79 before she matches a man’s income at 65. She would need to work until December to reach what a man earns by September. On average, a woman puts in 13 years of unpaid work to equal the lifetime income of a male.

The gender wage gap grows more bleak when examining the incomes of immigrant and indigenous women. For female immigrants, the gap is 53 per cent; for Indigenous women it’s 43 per cent.

Faraday said there were plenty of explanations to account for the persistent gender wage gap.

More and more women find themselves working in precarious, part-time employment. The categories that afford many women the greatest wage stability – education and health care – have witnessed government cutbacks and stagnant pay.

In fact, she said, women have discovered how difficult it is to move beyond traditional employment opportunities. Of 500 job identified categories in Canada, she said citing recent research, 72 per cent of employed females can be found in a mere 20 categories. The other 480 are male dominated.

Governments, she said, have been a big part of the problem, and not the solution. The gender wage gap is a fundamental human rights issue, Faraday told her audience, but instead of providing remedies, governments elect to cut social programs, privatize public services, and back down on policies like a national daycare program – the very medicines that would help reduce the gender wage gap.

Peu de progrès réalisés dans la réduction de l’écart salarial entre les sexes, nous dit le CPF

Nous sommes en 2016. Les femmes participent au marché du travail en nombre record. Les salaires augmentent très lentement, mais l’écart entre ce que les femmes gagnent et ce que gagnent les hommes ne diminue pas. En fait, il a même augmenté dans certains cas.

C’est le sombre message qu’a livré vendredi matin une experte canadienne sur la disparité salariale entre les sexes devant les femmes réunies en grand nombre pour prendre le déjeuner offert par le Comité provincial des femmes du SEFPO.

« À tous égards et dans chaque catégorie principale – âge, groupe professionnel, secteur public ou privé ou tranche d’âge – en moyenne, les femmes gagnent toujours 30 pour cent de moins que les hommes », a déclaré Fay Faraday, professeure de droit à la Faculté de droit d’Osgoode Hall et militante pour la justice sociale.

Madame Faraday a décrit l’écart de différentes façons, toutes dépeignant des femmes courant sur un tapis roulant, engagées dans une course pour rattraper les salaires gagnés par les hommes.

Une femme aurait besoin de travailler jusqu’à l’âge de 79 ans pour accumuler ce qu’un homme aurait gagné jusqu’à 65 ans. Elle devrait travailler jusqu’au mois de décembre pour gagner ce qu’un homme gagne jusqu’au mois de septembre. En moyenne, une femme travaille 13 ans « gratuitement » par rapport à ce que gagne un homme durant toute sa vie.

L’écart salarial entre les hommes et les femmes se fait encore plus sombre si l’on examine le salaire des femmes immigrantes et autochtones. Pour les immigrantes, l’écart est de 53 pour cent; pour les femmes autochtones, il est de 43 pour cent.

Madame Faraday a dit qu’on pouvait expliquer de nombreuses façons l’écart salarial persistent entre les hommes et les femmes.

De plus en plus de femmes se retrouvent dans des emplois à temps partiel précaires. Les catégories qui offrent aux femmes le plus de stabilité salariale, soit l’éducation et les soins de santé, ont été assujetties aux réductions salariales et programmes de stagnation salariale du gouvernement.

En fait, a-t-elle dit, les femmes ont découvert combien il est difficile d’aller au-delà des possibilités d’emploi traditionnelles. Parmi les 500 catégories d’emploi identifiées au Canada, citant des recherches récentes, elle a dit que 72 pour cent des femmes qui travaillent se trouvent dans seulement 20 de ces catégories. Les 480 catégories restantes sont à prédominance masculine.

Les gouvernements, dit-elle encore, sont les grands responsables de ce problème, certainement pas la solution. L’écart salarial entre les sexes est fondamentalement une question de droits de la personne, a déclaré Madame Faraday à son auditoire, mais au lieu d’offrir des solutions, les élus gouvernementaux coupent dans les programmes sociaux, privatisent les services publics et font marche arrière dans le cadre de programmes tels que le programme national de garde à l’enfance, les solutions mêmes qui aideraient à réduire l’écart salarial entre les sexes.

Social Mapping Project: 2016 Update

Region 2 Regional Vice-President, Deb Tungatt, presented delegates with an update on OPSEU’s social mapping project. She started her remarks by thanking everyone who has contributed to the ongoing success of the project, the first of its kind in the union’s history.

The aim of the social mapping project is to identify needs that require improvement and attention by using demographic measures. Thirty-five recommendations came out of this phase of the social mapping project. Up to 30 per cent of this year’s resolutions at convention were brought forward by the provincial equity committees and caucuses.

Tungatt noted that many of the project’s short-term needs and goals have been met. The task force is now focused on some of the outstanding – and more complex – long-term and permanent needs.  Both current and past members of the task force encouraged delegates and others to participate in the survey that was distributed to everyone in the convention hall.

Equity Update

All of OPSEU’s eight equity committees and caucuses collectively provided updates to convention floor.  Their continued commitment to equity and their joint efforts have led to the organization of a new campaign called:  “Equality: is giving everyone a shoe; equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.”

The campaign aims to set straight the differences between equality and equity. It intends to educate viewers on the struggles many of us still face regarding discrimination in our workplaces and society. It will highlight the uniqueness of the solutions.  Regardless, discrimination is still discrimination. You can view the video at:

15 dollars, fairness now!

Chants of “15 dollars, fairness now!” echoed through the streets as OPSEU members marched up University Avenue in Toronto to the Ministry of Labour offices at Friday’s lunchtime rally.

Close to 1,000 people participated in the march, including OPSEU members, social activists and community groups. They joined forces in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage.

The rally was part of a much larger movement, with dozens of other protests scheduled across Ontario. Protesters everywhere called on elected officials to end slave wages and precarious part-time work.

Since March 2015, the Ministry of Labour has been reviewing Ontario’s workplace employment and labour laws. The ministry’s Changing Workplaces Review is expected to release an interim report next month. Workers are describing the challenges they face as they try to survive in a labour market marked by poverty wages, short-term contract work, and temporary workers with no guarantee of regularly-scheduled hours, and unfair exemptions that leave some workers with no workplace protections at all.

Credential Report

945 – Delegates

504 – Alternates

216 – Observers

7 – Retirees

19 – Executive Board Members

53 – Committee Members

34 – Solidarity Guests

5 – Guests

1803 attendees

Wow! OPSEU’s got outstanding talent!

You may have missed it, but last night OPSEU’s Got Talent performances before a crowd of about 400 was a real show stopper! Some of our brave sisters and brothers took to the stage inside the William Bassett Theatre to strut their stuff. And indeed, there was plenty of strutting involved.

OPSEU’s Got Talent was filled with not only talented OPSEU members, but also some pretty talented and well-known names. The master of ceremonies, David Merry, was one of last year’s comedy night performers and the judges were Farley Flex, formerly of Canadian Idol; Greg Morton, a deep voiced comedian known for his you tube “Obama Man” videos; and Jessica Matten, known for her work on the TV series Blackstone.

OPSEU received many submissions from talented members across the province, and one member from each region advanced to demonstrate their talent and compete at convention.

Region 1 – Mike Melkert, Local 110
Performance: Garth Brooks,’ If Tomorrow Never Comes

Region 2 – Anita Dwyer
Performance: Leona Lewis,’ I See You

Region 3 – Kayley Thompson, Local 349
Performance: An original song, Take Easy, Make Nice

Region 4 – Jim Puckalo Local 474, and Shawn Reid Local 468
Performance: A lip sync as, Agnetha and Anni from ABBA

Region 5 – Fay D’Almeida, Local 599
Performance: Choreographed dance routine to Jennifer Lopez’s, On the Floor

Region 6 – Verdun Vaillancourt, Local 608
Performance: Stan Rogers,’ The Mary Ellen Carter

Region 7 – Justin Miller, Local 736
Performance: An original standup comedy routine based on his visual impairment.

Unfortunately, there can only be one winning act, and after paring down the contestants, the judges selected the act from Region 4. Congratulations Brothers Puckalo and Reid and thanks to everyone for a great evening of performances!

Resolutions and Constitutional Amendments Passed

A.1. – A constitutional amendment to change Aboriginal Circle to Indigenous Circle

A.2. – A constitutional amendment to authorize the President to recall a member who is in an acting management position to their home position, if the member refuses they will be barred from running for office.

B5 – A resolution to increase dependent strike pay shall be increased from $6 per day to $10 per day ($50 week), effective immediately.

B17 – A resolution to increase strike pay from current rate of $200 per week in first three weeks and $300 per week for weeks 4 onward.

EB14 – A resolution that OPSEU supports the Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day’s call for a national strategy to fight the suicide epidemic affecting First Nation communities; and monitoring truth and reconciliation recommendation implementation


A.3 – A constitutional amendment requiring at least one person who identifies as female to be elected regionally as an Executive Board Member.

A.4 – A constitutional amendment that would allow suspension and/or reduction of dues to any labour fraternal, service or other organization to be decided only by Convention.

A.6 – A constitutional amendment that would create two additional new board positions to be filled by members selected by equity committees.

More pay equity officers underline slow pace of implementation

Sometimes at convention, when delegates adopt constitutional amendments and resolutions, some may wonder: Does it really matter? On Friday, several resolutions were passed, but one, in particular, stood out. Delegates passed a budget item titled, “Under the Salary and Payroll Costs add three full-time pay equity staff for a one-year term with the costing in accordance with the OPSEU staff collective agreement.”

While three additional pay equity officers is good for OPSEU members, it also reinforces the sad fact that pay equity in the workplace is far from a done deal, more than 20 years after it was first introduced. There are dozens of smaller OPSEU bargaining units that have no provisions for pay equity. It’s time our self-proclaimed “social justice” premier lived up to the law and demanded that all employees in the broader public sector be covered.

OPSEU 2016 Budget

With debate on only a few issues, this year’s annual budget was quickly passed by convention delegates in time for the lunch break on Friday.  Two key changes included, increased funding for three additional temporary pay equity officers for a 12-month period; and, funding to cover the legal fees incurred this year by the CAAT Academic sector.

OPSEU members watch Jays down Yankees

More than 300 OPSEU members were at the Rogers Centre on Thursday night to catch the Toronto Blue Jays, take on the visiting New York Yankees.

Behind a strong outing by Jays’ starter Marcus Stroman, MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki each contributed a home run to lead Toronto to a 4-2 victory over the Bronx Bombers.

Stroman went eight strong innings, allowing only three hits. 

With the Jays down by two runs, Donaldson cranked a three-run homer to give the Jays the lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Tulowitzki added to the lead with a solo shot in the sixth.

With their 4-2 lead the Jays turned to closer, Roberto Osuna, who pitched a flawless ninth inning, helping the Jays to their second win in a row.

Convention endorses resolution to review workplace culture, harassment issues

In the wake of “profane” Facebook postings that alleged serious misconduct in OPSEU’s workplace culture and hiring practices, convention endorsed an emergency resolution by the Executive Board Friday to retain an external independent consultant to study the organization’s workplace culture.

The move was endorsed by delegates by a near-unanimous margin of 98 per cent.

Prior to the introduction of the resolution, all OPSEU staff walked off the convention floor to protest the discovery on Thursday of anonymous handouts at convention that alleged inappropriate job hirings and contained the names of several individual staff.

After the walkout, Thomas and First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida met with top managers and members of the two staff unions outside the main hall. Thomas and staff union presidents Cameron Walker and Steve Saysell pledged to work together to resolve harassment and other issues to improve workplace culture. Many of the issues began to surface after Toronto Police laid sexual assault charges against a former OPSEU staff member last November.

By late morning, calm had returned. In speaking to the two staff unions, Thomas said that while the sides may bargain hard over their collective agreements, there remained a strong undercurrent of admiration and respect for the work done by both management and its employees. Saysell and Walker agreed.

“What we found was misogynistic and utterly disgusting,” Thomas said, referring to the anonymous handouts. “I am asking anyone who might know something about this to come forward.”

Adoption of the emergency resolution capped an emotional morning inside the convention hall. Several speakers were in tears.

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