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Convention Update Day 4 – April 18, 2016

We the North
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It was a night to Laugh out Loud!

Everyone likes a good laugh. That much was evident Friday night at OPSEU’s always-popular Comedy Night, judging by the capacity crowd in attendance at the John Bassett theatre. Master of Ceremonies for the evening was none other than OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who did a fine job of keeping the flow moving smoothly throughout the evening.

To kick off the night, the audience was treated to the brutally-truthful Daryll Lenox, who shared with us what he sees as the differences between Canadian and American styles of speech, behaviours, and the cultural differences of our two countries. Lenox didn’t hesitate to use his own visual impairment as material for his comedy routine.

Next up was Laurie Elliott, a zany, intensely honest woman who led us through the quirky, inner workings of her mind. She had us laughing with the apparent similarities between relationships with our significant others and the rest of society.

To round out the evening, comic Greg Morton had the crowd in the cup of his hands. Greg captivated us right out of the gate with his interactive style of comedy. Most folks are still trying to erase his impersonation of Miley Cyrus from their minds – likely unsuccessfully.

Delegates vote to remove a barrier

With the support of 94 per cent, delegates on Saturday adopted a resolution that will see   reimbursement rates for family care go from $6 an hour to $10, to a maximum of $160 per day (from $112). Nine different locals, committees, and area councils collaborated to bring the resolution forward.

Convention was motivated to move on the issues by numerous speakers who shared their personal stories about the barriers they face to their union activism due to family responsibilities. They gained the support of many allies in the hall who said while they were not personally affected by the resolution, they stood in support on grounds of equity.

CAAT Support DivEx Chair Marilou Martin spoke passionately about the need for this change. She recalled when convention first approved dependent care in 1993 at a reimbursement rate of $5 per hour. Almost a quarter century later it had barely increased.

“Think about it,” Martin told delegates, “Do you want to leave your dependents in the care of someone being paid $6 dollars an hour? And on the flip side of that, do you want to be the one being paid $6 dollars an hour?” She put the issue in the context of representing a barrier for woman. Even though many obstacles are being tossed aside, woman are still more traditionally the care givers takers at home and away – at events, for example, like OPSEU’s annual convention.

Hot off a rally the previous day in support of “$15 and Fairness” regarding the hourly minimum wage, delegates voted overwhelmingly in support of a big step to improve the wages of dependent care workers.

Big boost for the CAAT Support Staff scholarship fund

By way of a raffle, participants at this year’s OPSEU convention raised $3,007 toward the CAAT Support scholarship fund. It is hoped that the amount will be matched by OPSEU.

In 2015, the fund offered four, $1000 scholarships to any student enrolled in one of Ontario’s 24 public colleges. The CAAT Support divisional executive selected “precarious work” as the theme for interested students to pursue in one of four categories: poem, song, essay (500 words), or video (2 minutes).

Those on convention floor Saturday were treated to this year’s winning entry in the poetry category.  Poet Erin Hogan impressed everyone with a piece that was clever, eloquent and insightful.

Congratulations to the CAAT Support staff and the allies in OPSEU for the success of this wonderful new scholarship fund.  

Resolutions

Passed

  • M12: OPSEU will investigate ways to implement electronic voting for its bargaining unit members that would maintain the privacy and integrity of member identifications and will report back next convention.
  • EB2: For OPSEU to continue to demand that the Ontario Liberal government address the crisis in Ontario’s correctional services.
  • B16: OPSEU is to hire a full-time bilingual education officer.

Failed

  • L11: To have OPSEU/NUPGE lobby governments at all levels to follow a five-step process before considering privatization.
  • D1: In Section 6 of OPSEU policy – “Dues Structure” – to remove “overtime” from dues collected.

Credentials Report April 16, 2016

949 – Delegates
506 – Alternates
223 – Observers
7 – Retirees
20 – Executive board Members
53 – Committee Members
34 – Solidarity Guests
6 – Guests
1800 Attendees

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