We are living in unsettled and uncertain times. The pandemic. The threat of austerity and cutbacks. Urgent new calls to finally confront systemic racism.
But let me tell you: OPSEU is facing all of these challenges head-on. And as it’s done so many times over its long history, OPSEU and its members will deliver.
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of this great union than I have over the past four months. It’s downright moving to stand with so many smart and caring people, working together to tackle the biggest problems of the day.
I’m writing this the same week we held telephone town halls to talk about anti-Black racism in our workplaces, in our union, and in our communities. It was an incredible event, as heart-breaking as it was inspiring.
Racism is a scourge. Thousands of members and staff tuned in to our town halls to answer a tough but simple question: how can we help root out and eliminate this scourge from our workplaces, our union, and our communities?
And as they always do, OPSEU members and staff delivered: sharing their painful experiences and offering up tangible solutions that boil down to more action, more education, more training, and more investment. I don’t know the details yet, but I can promise you this: I’m going to deliver, too. I’ll be going to next month’s Executive Board meeting with an action plan that has the investment it needs to succeed.
OPSEU members also delivered last month, after I asked you to help me encourage nearly 4,000 educational support workers in Peel to say yes to OPSEU.
In emails and on social media, many of you wrote passionate and heartfelt notes about why you’re so proud to be OPSEU members and we passed each and every one of those messages along to the school workers.
And when it came time to open the virtual ballot boxes, an incredible 86 per cent of them had voted yes to OPSEU. And the results were unanimous amongst the 19 Executive Board Members who voted to support the merger.
Now, I’m not saying our newest members wouldn’t have joined us if you hadn’t written all those messages of welcome and solidarity. But I don’t think the numbers would have been nearly so definitive.
I’m thankful so many of you responded to my call for action – we’re 4,000 members stronger because of it – but I’m not one bit surprised.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve stood together to demand better for all Ontarians.
Our Corrections members have fought to make sure our jails are among the safest from COVID-19 in the country. Our health and long-term care members have pushed to expand pandemic pay and pushed back hard on dangerous and unnecessary layoffs. Our LCBO members have made sure the safety of workers and customers are the top priority. And our colleges and university members are fighting now to make sure students get the safest and best education possible.
It’s not an easy time to be a worker on the front-lines. But it’s never been a better time to be an OPSEU member. Because time and time again, OPSEU members deliver.
In solidarity, Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President / Treasurer
Ontario Public Service Employees Union