Some 40 new OPSEU/SEFPO Local Presidents had a chance last month to learn how their union works and got plenty of tips on how to fulfill their roles.
OPSEU/SEFPO’s Member Education Unit held two inaugural sessions of the online Local Presidents Orientation (LPO).
Guest speakers from OPSEU/SEFPO staff shared their expertise and engaged the Local Presidents in discussions about the supports available to the union’s members. Local Presidents also had an opportunity to get their questions answered on topics such as grievances, pensions and health and safety and pensions.
Throughout the various group activities, Local Presidents also learned about their role in the bargaining cycle, identified steps on how to build solidarity in their locals, and discussed solutions to complex scenarios while using an equity lens. They also talked about some of the challenging conflict situations they have dealt with in their locals, and shared strategies for handling these situations. These included: racism, physical assault, harassment, and job competitions.
President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President and First Vice-President Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida also dropped in on the virtual sessions to share their decades of knowledge.
Thomas thanked the Local Presidents for taking on their new role.
“Local Presidents are the foundation of any union,” noted Thomas. “It’s a challenging but often rewarding job, but it takes real commitment to take on the role.”
Almeida told the Local Presidents that they are “truly the ambassadors of the union.
“You are the face and voice of OPSEU/SEFPO for many members,” said Almeida. “Be a strong voice, and know that you have the strength of our whole union with you.”
The Local Presidents promised to keep in touch with each other and work on building a network of activists who can rely on each other.
The next online Local Presidents Orientation will be held in the Fall, 2021. The dates will be posted on the OPSEU/SEFPO website once they are confirmed.