If I could wave a magic wand and make the pandemic disappear, I would in a heartbeat. I know we all would. I would give anything to undo the tragic deaths and heartbreaking despair so many have suffered over the past nine months.
It’s tough to grasp sometimes just how much our lives have changed since March. We’ve lost people. We wear masks, social distance, and must stay far apart from our friends, families, and co-workers – we’ve all had to adjust and adapt in ways we’d never imagined.
Your union has had to adjust and adapt, too.
Earlier this year, the Executive Board made the tough decisions to postpone the 2020 Convention and call a halt to most in-person member meetings.
I’m incredibly pleased with all the support I’ve received from you about these difficult decisions – so many of you understand that they really were the only responsible choices we could make.
But you’ve also been asking a very good question: what is the union doing with the money it would have invested in making Convention and all those meetings happen? After all, accommodations, travel, and venues are usually among some of the biggest line-items in our annual budget. If we’re not investing your dues on those things, what are we investing them in?
The short answer is: we’re investing your dues back into you and your locals.
Here’s the longer answer: during the Executive Board meeting on December 7, a number of resolutions were passed to ensure the resources we’d normally invest in members meetings are spent in a number of other ways that are of significant benefit to you and your union.
The resolutions that were passed included:
- Issuing an additional 2020 rebate cheque to all eligible locals. During the special Local President’s virtual meeting held last month, many said they needed more support to find new ways to engage with their members during this era of distancing and working-from-home. This additional rebate cheque could go a long way to helping with this, especially for the locals that are now on the cusp of bargaining.
- Bolstering our strike fund. Our union has been growing so quickly that it became clear last year that we needed more membership space as well as space for our staff. So using money from our Strike Fund, we bought the building at 155 Lesmill, right across from our head office at 100 Lesmill. We’re now in the position to pay that money back into the Strike Fund 15 years earlier than we’d envisioned. So, the Strike Fund is stronger and will grow more quickly.
- Purchasing members and office space in Sudbury. In Sudbury, we have been renting office and member space. Instead of continuing to rent long-term, the Executive Board approved the purchase of the building at 363 York St. Once renovated, it will give us a permanent footprint and home in one of the province’s most important communities. And to make the purchase, we won’t need to borrow from the Strike Fund as we often do for such large investments.
- Reducing our unfunded liabilities. OPSEU/SEFPO is a union, but it is also an employer to more than 300 staff. According to accounting rules , we need to account for the money we’ll one day need to spend on things like post-retirement health and dental benefits for each and every one of those staff members. This is what makes up our “unfunded liability” that I talk about at Convention every year. But by putting money aside now for all those liabilities, we’re reducing our “unfunded liabilities,” which will give us greater financial strength and flexibility in the future.
I’m grateful for the Executive Board’s support on all four of these resolutions that I put forward.
They are prudent, responsible, and they do what I have always strived to do as your First Vice-President/Treasurer: put the members first.
Thank you and in solidarity,
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer