Our democracy depends on our members

Smokey Thomas
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At OPSEU/SEFPO, we have a big year ahead of us as we prepare for the Regional Meetings and elections in March, and in less than three months from now, Convention 2022. This year will be the first time in more than a decade that we’ve had an open election for President, which means there’s at least one big change on the horizon.

During my time as OPSEU/SEFPO President, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with, and getting to know, some of the most dedicated and hardworking members you will find anywhere. What a privilege it has been.

Together, we have accomplished great things and we will continue to do so. And while I’ve loved this job like no other, after nearly 15 years, the time has come to hang up my skates.

That means it’s also time for the members of our great union to get to know their new prospective president – by getting to know the candidates who are running, and by engaging in our union’s democratic process.

While Convention is a big part of that, there’s so much more that happens outside the Convention Centre walls. Democracy starts in the locals; it starts when members engage with their local leadership about the issues that are important to them so they can be passed on to those who are running for office.

At OPSEU/SEFPO, we have a long and proud tradition of being a democratic, member-driven union. But as the saying goes, our democracy is only as strong as our members’ support for it.

As our union continues to build, grow and evolve, our success depends on members being actively involved in the democratic process. And as we prepare for several important elections in the coming months, now’s the time to get up to speed on what all the candidates stand for. For those who can, it also means stepping up and putting your name forward to run.

Our democracy depends on our members.

OPSEU/SEFPO members have proven time and again how skilled, experienced and resilient they are – just look at our track record during the pandemic. Now is the time to put those skills to good use within our union, by getting involved.

I know that asking folks to get involved is a tall order these days – many are experiencing the stress and anxiety of being overworked and understaffed during this difficult time. But that’s what makes building up our union strength and solidarity so important right now – so that we can continue to rebuild an even better, stronger and safer Ontario.

Convention is a great time to come together – it’s where great ideas are shared, discussed and debated, and it’s when the members of this union family decide the path forward. Those who have attended in person know there’s an electricity in the air.

But the months leading into the Regionals and Convention are just as important; it’s when great ideas are shared, discussed and debated at the local level and Convention’s foundations are set.

These next few weeks won’t always be easy – like any family, we don’t always see eye to eye. We debate, and sometimes we disagree, but we understand that both are productive parts of our democratic process. What matters most is our ability to listen to one another, and to remain respectful during these trying times – it’s what fuels our progress.

There may be big changes on the horizon, but we will continue to accomplish great things by engaging in our union’s democratic process – by staying informed and getting involved.

In Solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU/SEFPO President

@OPSEUSmokey
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