Convention Update Final Update – May 11, 2014

Smokey Thomas & Eddy Almeida posing with other OPSEU members at convention

Hudak makes his presence known at Convention 2014

Convenient? Perfectly timed? You be the judge.

Tim HudakEarly in Day 2 of Convention 2014, Tim Hudak announced that, if elected, his Tory government will cut 100,000 jobs from Ontario’s public sector.

“Our government is growing bigger than we can afford,” says Hudak. In addition, Hudak’s vision includes an across-the-board wage freeze and an end to “gold plated pensions.” His plan includes attack on all ministries except health.

We polled the Convention floor to see what attendees thought of these little nuggets of wisdom:

“Reducing public service by 100,000 jobs does not help our economy – it will take more money out of our economy and will cost jobs across all sectors, public and private.”

“Who is he selling? How does he plan to bring 1,100,000 jobs to Ontarians?”

“With 22 years in government, Tim Hudak is not just on the Gravy Train, he’s the engineer.”

“100,000 job cuts just means 100,000 more people looking for scarce private sector jobs.”

“I’m scared for myself, and my family.”

“Our social services are already stretched; 100,000 more jobs will mean that people aren’t getting the services they need.”

“We need to make sure that the Progressive Conservatives DO NOT win this elections.”

Verne Saari: Confessions of a Newbie

As I sit here at the media table, I must admit I am experiencing a strong sense of feeling quite lost and overwhelmed. As a relative newcomer to the In Solidarity Committee, I am learning as I go.

Verne SaariIn trying to keep abreast of what is happening on the floor, I am struck by the dedication and depth of understanding of so many committed people on behalf of their members.

For the newbie, the action of Convention happens very quickly, and being able to understand and keep up with all the motions and actions is very intimidating. I do take strength from the fact that I can learn and improve my knowledge base of the workings of our union and the intricacies involved.

To see how the inner workings of OPSEU unfold is a true thing of beauty, and it highlights democracy in its most positive light.

I also feel the need to strive to do a better job of conveying the information to our membership, as I sit in an elected position, and feel I owe that to the members who supported me in my election to my seat on the In Solidarity Committee as well as those in my own local.

In one aspect I feel that I am not worthy of holding the position I do, due to my inexperience. In another, this is exactly what OPSEU is all about. Namely, allowing every member the chance to be involved through elections for all committees and positions.

At present, our budget is being reviewed. Convention has indeed been informative, and now I can return to my local and confidently explain where their dues are going.

Watching the Convention progress, once a member has experienced it, can be eye-opening to put it mildly. Concerns of any member can be brought forth to the microphones for discussion and answers from our treasurer, Eduardo Almeida.

The questions being posed are all legitimate inquiries thus far thus telling me that these members are involved, educated, and informed.

Through my own limited experiences, I have observed that the average OPSEU member has no inkling of the operational needs and the standards to which our union adheres.

Having met our president Smokey Thomas personally and being privy to small conversations which he was having with other members has made me realize that he is a person much like the rest of us. His job just happens to be the face that represents our union and that he does indeed strive to make this work the best he can.

Having experienced Convention for the first time, I would definitely suggest that any member who can attend this annual function should do so, as it will definitely give you a clearer understanding of how our union works and empower you to bring the message back to your own local.


M5- That OPSEU will establish a Francophone conference ever two years—Carried

L7- OPSEU President and membership petition the Minister of Finance to enact legislation that will make “diminished value” recoverable through Auto Insurance—Carried

O2- OPSEU increase efforts at all government levels to assure that public homecare is accessible—Carried

A welcome break

On Friday night delegates were able to enjoy three comedians at Convention’s Annual Comedy Night.  A welcome break from business indeed. The night was opened by our very own president Smokey Thomas, who also assumed the role of host for the evening. Ron Josol, our first entertainer, was a lively man who had the crowd giggling within seconds. Immediately following was Kate Rigg, who sang and danced the laughter right out of us.

The final comedian was Dylan Mandlsohn who was best described as having a “rubber” face. Mandlsohn expertly contorted his features for each character he portrayed. In the final segment, two of our own members, perhaps aspiring comedians themselves, became part of the act. Thank you Barb and Bob for being the good-natured members that you were.

Regional Political Action

On Saturday, OPSEU Convention attendees broke out to regional meetings in order to strategize for the upcoming election.   With the focus on defeating Hudak, the regions came up with the following strategies:

Region 1: Members were encouraged to volunteer, even if only for a few hours, for local candidates.  The simple power of local meeting, conversations during coffee breaks, attending “Stop Hudak” events, and harnessing social media cannot be overstated.  Members were happy to hear that OPSEU will be regularly providing information and ideas.  It is clear that members are at risk. Candidates to visit locals—being volunteers—set up email sheet

Region 2: Some ideas ­– making quick video of what we do, political action committee, newsletters, social media, set up debates and fill the rooms, street theatre.

Region 3: Provide resources, good literature, questions for members to ask delegates, email blasts, strategies for reaching non-voters, slip of paper for store “my working dollars helped…”

Region 4: Members will promote regional campaign to defeat Hudak. LECs encouraged to have a political action committee to get members out to vote.

Region 5: Local by local the region will engage stewards to coordinate outreach, bulletin boards, lunch and learn, literature drop, ice cream day, bbqs, trying new stuff, leafleting, at demand set meetings, videos on tablets to circulate videos, epic fail, phone trees

Region 6: Members will focus on promoting the value of public services, day to day lives—practical, meaningful approach, educational political events, commercials focusing on “I am OPSEU, and I do…”, Orange OPSEU shirts

Region 7: Members to look at tactics such as mob room, globe and mail info, labour councils, flash mobs, engaging youth, Twitter, lawn signs.

Convention by the numbers – May 10, 2014

937 – Delegates

496 – Alternates

203 – Observers

7 – Retirees

20 – EBMs

46 – Committees

20 – Solidarity Guests

15 – Guests

Total – 1744

Resolutions & Constitutional Amendments

0 – Constitutional Amendments

3 – Resolutions Passed

7 – Political Action Regional Caucus Meetings

4,329 Likes on Facebook for Ontario Public Service Employees Union

5 – In Solidarity Committee Members

1 – In Solidarity Staff Liaison

1 – In Solidarity Board Liaison

4 – Convention Daily Updates

175 – Hours preparing Convention Daily Updates