Horwath wows Convention
Convention’s more than 1,800 attendees were in for a big treat, as Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP, dropped by for a surprise visit and delivered an uplifting speech.
She highlighted the NDP’s newly minted electoral platform campaign, “Change for the Better.” The platform promises to restore public service funding, offers universal child care, and introduces a universal pharamcare and dental program.
“Throughout our platform, and throughout this election campaign, you will see that everything we do is about putting people at the heart of every decision that government makes,” she said to enthusiastic applause from delegates.
Horwath went on to say the NDP would rebuild public services after years of deep cuts made by the Liberal and previous Conservative governments.
Andrea had kind words for President Thomas and OPSEU. “Smokey, thank you for your strong leadership on behalf of OPSEU members and working people across Ontario!” she said. Smokey never minces words. He never backs down. He stands up for what’s right,and working people are better off because of it!
“I also want to thank all of you – the members of this great union,” Horwath continued. “It’s you –more than 150,000 members – who work so incredibly hard for the people of Ontario.”
The NDP leader concluded her speech by promising an NDP victory this spring would mean a better life for the people of Ontario. And delegates warmly agreed.
NUPGE campaigns target youth
Larry Brown, President of the 390,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), and Sara Labelle, Region 3 Executive Board Member and Highest-Ranking Female, came together to promote the new “All Together Now!” campaign and the “Unions? F@#k Yeah!” campaigns.
The “All Together Now!” campaign began as the result of the financial collapse in 2009. NUPGE had been witnessing growing income inequality, slashes to public services by austerity-driven governments, and restrictions on workers’ rights.
Employers were cutting wages and benefits. The tax system was benefiting corporations and the wealthy. The “All Together Now!” campaign was created to represent the voices of hardworking Canadians who wanted to narrow the gap of income inequality and to promote respect for public services – and the workers who provide them.
“Unions? F@#k, Yeah!” is essentially phase two of “All Together Now!” It’s a campaign mindful of the future. In another 11 years, most baby boomers will have retired, leaving a huge gap in the workforce. Brown said 30 per cent of our membership will be completely new in a five-year period. Some will be Gen Xers, while others will be millennials, both of whom have a different life experience.
In order to effectively engage with millennials, NUPGE conducted a research and online community study that reports on insights from young workers. As it turns out, young workers share union values. Young people believe in protecting the most vulnerable. Young people believe in universal access to education and information, affordable housing, and net neutrality. A majority of young workers also believe that unions are important in Canada. Only six per cent of young people surveyed were anti-union.
In short, the priorities of young people are consistent with current labour movement trends, which include housing, debt, employment, wages and day-to-day responsibilities.
The study also indicates that young workers are turned off by negative, overly dramatic tones, condemnation of employers, and an us-versus-them mentality. Young workers also complain about an absence of young voices, canned, inauthentic communications, and a disconnection with respect to issues that affect them. They can see that old battles are being fought for established workers but need to know that their issues are being addressed, too.
In light of this study, NUPGE produced an Internet and TV advertisement called “Unions? F@#k, Yeah!” It showcases the spectrum and importance of public services in a fun and inspirational way. Visit https://unionsyeah.ca to view the commercial. The goal is to engage the future members and lead-ership of the labour movement through the most accessible way: social media.
New generations of our union require new methods of engagement and communication. Youth are our future! Let’s connect with them now.
A.M. Credentials Report
Delegates – 969
Committee Members – 55
Retirees – 7
EBMs – 21
Alternates – 541
Observers – 246
Guests – 40
P.M. Credentials Report
Delegates – 970
Committees – 55
Retirees – 7
EBMs – 21
Alternates – 544
Observers – 256
Guests – 43
OPSEU expresses support for Black workers
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas reaffirmed the union’s commitment to equity and diversity. The union invited a group of Black work-ers to speak to OPSEU’s Convention on Friday. The workers talked about racism in the Ontario Public Service (OPS).
The Black Workers Matter activists have been successful in achieving a moratorium on suspending OPS workers without pay after meeting with earlier this year with Michael Couteau, Minister Responsible for the Anti-Racism Directorate
Thomas reaffirmed that OPSEU will stand with Black workers on promoting diversity, inclusion, human rights and social justice within our union.
Arlene Davis, a 27-year veteran of public service, left her workplace as a result of harassment. Because of a dispute with her employer, she was unpaid for nine months. Davis sought legal counsel and won.
The struggle affected not only Davis’s workplace and finances, but also her family and community life. Suffering harassment and discrimination is all-encompassing.
Arlene Davis’s story was met with a standing ovation from the Convention.
The workers who spoke Friday said that when Black workers win, every member wins.
Amendments and Resolutions
Constitutional amendments (Section H)
H3 was DEFEATED – Therefore be it resolved that Article 13.8 of the OPSEU Constitution be amended to limit only locals, Area Councils, Divisions and the Executive Board to have the authority to submit Resolutions and Constitutional Amendments to the annual OPSEU Convention for debate and consideration.
H1 was DEFEATED – Therefore be it resolved that under article 12.6.1 addition of article 12.6.1(a)
– For the purpose of administration there will be a minimum of two (2) Regional Offices in each region.
H5 was CARRIED– A constitutional amendment to article 29.4.1Therefore elections shall be conducted at general meetings of the Members concerned. Rea-sonable notice of the meeting and of the elections to take place must be given. In special circumstances the Local may request that voting be conducted by setting up one or more polling stations or be
conducted by secure electronic means rather than at a general meeting and the President of the Union shall have the authority to grant such a request and establish rules to govern such vote.
H2 was DEFEATED – Therefore be it resolved that article 13.4 be amended to add (f) all Ministry, Sec-tor, CAAT-Academic & CAAT-Support Chairs be entitled to be delegates.
Supplement to section H was CARRIED – Amendment to Article 14.8.2 Should a Regional Vice- President be elected or First Vice-President/Treasurer, the Regional’s alternate Regional Vice-President will become the new Regional Vice-President , and the third remaining Executive Board member would become the Alternate Regional Vice-President.
EB1 was CARRIED was carried – Therefore be it resolved that OPSEU endorses the following Charter of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities.
EB5 was CARRIED – Therefore be it resolved that OPSEU call on the Ontario government to provide funding for publicly owned and managed long-term care beds (staffed beds), to a level that meets population need; and Be it further resolved that OPSEU call on the government to reject any proposal to privatize the ownership or management of an existing public longterm care facility, and that all new capac-ity in the long-term care sector be fully public; and Be it further resolved that OPSEU demand funding for increased access to specialized long-term care homes, with appropriate staffing, including skilled regulated health professionals; and Be it further resolved that OPSEU call for more annualized random inspections for long-term care homes; and Be it further resolved that OPSEU call for a provincial strategy to improve access to specialized seniors’ mental health services, as per the recommendations of the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario’s Geriatric and Long-Term Care Review Committee.
K1 was CARRIED -Therefore be it resolved that OPSEU reinstate the Joint Leadership Day on an annual basis; and Be it further resolved that the Joint Leadership Day will be planned and executed by the OPSEU Equity Chairs and the Equity Unit as it has been done in the past.
EB8 was CARRIED – Therefore be it resolved that OPSEU strongly encourage all of its members to vote in the provincial election; and Be it further resolved that OPSEU provide all of its members with resources and information that will help them make an informed choice about which candidates will be most likely to support strong and effective public services.
L8 was CARRIED – Therefore be it resolved that the union lobby against the closure of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Angus Seed Plant and that the Government of Ontario properly fund the facility.
OPSEU's Got Talent
Convention 2018 saw the fourth annual offering of the increasingly popular OPSEU’s Got Talent – a showcase of our members’ abilities in song, dance, musicianship and much more.
inSolidarity’s own Laurie Tarto said that Janice Hunter Desjarlais’s rendition of Christina Aguilera’s song Say Something actually gave her chills.
Judge Farley Flex said the talent levels shown by our members was absolutely exceptional.
The big winner of the night was Region 7’s Carrie Hall, a speech pathologist in Local 702. Her operatic performance wowed the audience. Bravissima!
PWC hosts annual breakfast
No file IdMarilou Martin (l) and Elizabeth Ha
The PWC also awarded the annual Bread and Roses Award to Elizabeth Ha, who was recognized for her incredible activism.
Ha paid tribute to an OPSEU stalwart who inspired her, Marilou Martin. “Without her efforts, we wouldn’t have child care at Convention or educationals,” Ha said.
Ha also said everything we have now and take for granted is something that someone else fought hard to get for us.The PWC representatives pick a member from their respective regions and honour them with an award for their outstanding achievements in activism. This year, these recognitions went to:
Region 1: Christine Laverty
Region 2: Carlotta Ewing
Region 3: Amanda Usher
Region 4: Lisa Dianne
Region 5: Krista Maracle
Region 6: Arlene Phillips
Region 7: Sophia Ambrose