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“What’s the buzz?” Social services news

We the North
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A newsletter for members in Developmental Services, Children’s Aid Societies, Child Treatment, Youth Corrections, and Community Agencies.

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Message from the Chair: What’s the buzz?

I’m writing this having just spent a pleasant afternoon in my garden.  Already, the bees are working hard, buzzing around me as I work, and I am reminded of how dependent they are on us to ensure that their working environment is protected.  We benefit from their “busy bee” collective action as they build their hives, and make the delicious honey that we enjoy.  We know of the threats to their survival, and that without our collective efforts, we risk the loss of these great pollinators and productive workers.

Reflecting on that, I think community workers like us who work in developmental services, Children’s Aid Societies, community agencies, BPS Corrections and Children’s Treatment are facing our own changing environmental conditions in our workplaces. These changes threaten our ability to help build safe and thriving communities that are rich in equality, diversity and collective resilience. Years of underfunding, restructuring, and job cuts are putting more pressure on all of us to keep up with the demand for our services.

We need to challenge the changes that threaten our work.  Ensuring that our services continue means bargaining strong collective agreements that will attract and retain workers, and creating working environments that provide support for the work we do.

Our communities are stronger when we come together and understand the interplay between each of our sectors, and how we each contribute to a stronger whole. Just like bees in a hive.

So, on November 21 and 22, at the Sheraton in Toronto, we will be gathering together as the Community Services Division at our Joint Bargaining Forum to discuss how we can collectively strengthen our positions at the bargaining tables in the 2017 bargaining year. This will be our time to learn and prepare both together (day 1) and in our sectors (day 2) for bargaining.

Let’s get the buzz going, and have strong representation from all 192 of our bargaining units for this event.

Mark your calendars!

In Solidarity,

Deborah Gordon
Chair, Community Services Divisional Council

Taking action on workplace stress

NEW OPSEU Health and Safety course now available for regional educationals

Are you and your co-workers experiencing stress in the workplace? Are you looking for strategies to identify and address workplace stress? This course is for you.

Our CSDC sector’s work set the stage for developing this course. We surveyed our members in 2013 to find out which organizational factors are affecting our health the most. The CSDC Sector Executive used the knowledge gained from the survey to help develop this course.

This new course will develop the capacity of workers to take action on workplace stress, using a health and safety framework and union tools.

Objectives

  • Identify stress as a hazard that can be addressed through the health and safety framework
  • Identify workplace factors that negatively affect workers’ health and wellbeing
  • Gain familiarity with terminology associated with workplace stress
  • Share stories from your workplaces and strategize ways of resolving some of the issues using the tools provided
  • Develop strategies for influencing change in the workplace
  • Examine ways to work with your union to address and resolve workplace stress issues

The course will use an exciting new video, Taking Action on Workplace Stress: A health and safety story.

OPSEU’s new health and safety video tells the story of one local and the activists who worked with their union to improve their workplace.

Learn about strategies you can use to address issues and bring about change in your own workplace. This powerful success story will inspire and support activists to take action on workplace stress using a health and safety framework.

Developed as part of the new OPSEU regional educational course, “Taking Action on Workplace Stress,” this video can also be used as a stand-alone online educational piece for locals.

The course is an invaluable tool for ensuring workplaces are spaces where workers can continue to enjoy the work that they do, while also enhancing their abilities to identify and manage stress.

A typical day for Mary

Mary’s story shows the “emotional labour” involved in social service work. These types of demands are common in the Community Services Division. Other issues we face are high work demands, fast work pace, poor work organization, bullying and harassment, lack of trust, lack of recognition, lack of role clarity, ability to influence our work, lack of justice and respect, work/family conflicts, discrimination, threats of violence or workplace violence, and the list goes on.

What stresses you out at work? We are making a booklet of stories for our sector. The booklet will contain practical examples – like Mary’s – so that we can see and understand real-life examples and scenarios where these psychosocial hazards are at work.

We will use the booklet to:

  • draft sample recommendations to provide to the sector to address workplace stressors;
  • lobby in campaigns, including meetings with government officials or anyone to whom we want to communicate what stress looks like in our jobs; and
  • use at joint health and safety committees and as health and safety representatives to work towards safer and healthier workplaces.

Send in your story (no more than 400 words) to Terri Aversa, OPSEU Health and Safety Officer, at taversa@opseu.org.

Community Services Divisional Council Bargaining Conference, November 21-22, 2016

The CSDC is pleased to announce OPSEU’s first Bargaining conference for highest ranking in all five social services sectors in the Broader Public Service (BPS).

All highest ranking members from developmental services, children’s treatment, children’s aid community agencies and BPS corrections, are invited to attend this conference.