The Social Mapping Project (SMP) is a ground-breaking demographic survey and review of OPSEU membership systems. Launched in 2010, it was the first of its kind and has since allowed OPSEU to identify gaps and barriers by providing the necessary information to ensure services meet the needs of all its members. The SMP was also a response to the changing demographics of Ontario and the need for OPSEU to plan, improve and monitor its services to the membership, specifically to the groups of focus identified in the study. New priorities, programs and policies have been centred on promoting greater diversity. This move towards increased inclusion has resulted in a better understanding of the composition of the membership and workforce, and in turn, OPSEU as a leader in human rights.
Phase I (2010) of the project included a comprehensive survey of all OPSEU members. Almost 27,000 members participated. Phase II (2011) examined the education and election membership systems at OPSEU and made recommendations for improvements. In 2012, recommendations from Phase III were released with a focus on reviewing the union’s communications, bargaining and organizing systems.
Implementation Task Force
In 2011, the SMP Implementation Task Force was formed with the responsibility of prioritizing and developing plans for implementing recommendations based on the three different phases of the initiative. This is a huge task as there are over 260 separate recommendations. These recommendations are helping to build a stronger union that understands and responds to the membership in its full diversity.
Some key targets include putting in place mechanisms to monitor enforcement of equity policies; creating education opportunities that overcome barriers of long distances; and promoting opportunities for the union leadership to reflect the general membership, in particular with regards to inclusion of youth, racialized members and women.
During the first quarter of 2014, the Implementation Task Force has been involved in ongoing discussions with representatives from each of OPSEU’s equity committees and caucuses. The expertise and experience of this larger, collective group of members has helped to facilitate a more stream-lined process as the Task Force continues its work. A series of motions have been developed, sent for consideration and eventually approved by the Executive Board.
Key highlights in 2014
- A greater need for equity based training and education was identified in Phase II of the report. As result, the Training and Development Unit is currently working on a variety of materials in the form of new courses as well as updates to existing ones:
- A new course with emphasis on OPSEU’s history while highlighting its equity advances;
- A new course which focuses on the history of Aboriginal cultures (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) to be made available at regional educationals;
- New recruitment materials specific to each groups of focus will be attached to the Power Tool manual as a supplemental piece. This new recruitment piece will also be a part of the agenda for the Local Presidents Orientation; and
- The Stewardship 1 course will include a broader description of the equity committees and caucuses, their function and history.
- Increased visibility of equity and to foster greater diversity within OPSEU:
- There will be a fifteen (15) minute equity report from the Equity Chairs at each Convention starting in 2014; and
- Regional websites are now encouraged to include links to all OPSEU equity group websites.
There have been numerous highlights and achievements in the Social Mapping Project since its inception. Many of these have taken the form of new policies or amendments to existing practices:
- Accommodation Policy and Accommodation Request Form now posted on the website – members with disabilities can better participate in all aspects of the union, including Convention and Regional/Divisional meetings;
- A third-party auditor conducted an accessibility audit of Convention facilities;
- LECs are now required to submit meeting minutes to show they elected delegates; and the number of days that constitute “reasonable notice” for local elections is now specified in policy – thereby strengthening the integrity of the electoral process;
- To embed equity in all OPSEU training and development, a regular time is to be included for equity topics in regional educationals;
- In order to ensure consistent compliance with OPSEU’s equity goals, members are encouraged to self-identify when they register for Convention, regional meetings, educationals and conferences;
- Promotion of the Bargaining for Equity and Pay Equity Educational documents thereby increasing organizational capacity for equity; and
- Revised member orientation materials that acknowledge and welcome groups of focus.
- A Social Mapping update will be presented at Convention and will outline work that has been completed with respect to implementation of the recommendations from Phase III and Phase III;
- The Implementation Task Force will continue to prioritize and analyze long-term recommendations from Phase II (education and electoral systems) and Phase III (Communications, Bargaining and Organizing systems);
- Key measures for evaluating and monitoring organizational progress of Phase II and Phase III recommendations are to be developed by the Implementation Task Force; and
- The Task Force will extend its communications and engagement strategy to include written material for members; web materials (including downloadable resources); social media (a Facebook page, Twitter hashtag and others).
The SMP Implementation Task Force looks forward to this continued collaborative effort with representatives from OPSEU’s equity committees and caucuses.
Task Force Members:
- Jeff Arbus (President’s Office)
- Deb Tungatt (Executive Board)
- Elie Labaky (Provincial Young Workers Committee)
- Peter Thompson (Workers of Colour Caucus)
- Elaine Kerr (Provincial Women’s Committee)
- Helen Riehl (Other Equity Committees/Caucuses)
- Fridmar Facunda (Equity Officer, Project Lead)
- Emily Visser (Communications Officer)
- Catherine Bowman (Supervisor, Equity Unit)
- Geraldine Ryan (Supervisor, Training and Development Unit)
- Fran Borsellino (Supervisor, Local Services Division)
Equity Committees and Caucuses:
- Aboriginal Circle
- Provincial Francophone Committee (PFC)
- Provincial Human Rights Committee (PHRC)
- Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC)
- Provincial Young Workers Committee (PYC)
- Disability Rights Caucus (DRC)
- Rainbow Alliance
- Workers of Colour Caucus (WOCC)