I’m pleased to report to you about OPSEU’s Social Mapping Project.
This unprecedented initiative involves the completion of a social map of our membership and our staff. Essentially, that means your union is about to reach out to you like never before. OPSEU needs to learn more about those we represent and those who work for us in order to serve you even better and to give you the opportunity to fully take part in all your union has to offer.
Only when we have a better handle on the breadth of all the communities within OPSEU, can we work to ensure that the Union’s policies, programs and services are inclusive and barrier-free.
The Social Mapping Project got its mandate from Convention 2008 – which of course is the union’s highest-level decision making body. At last years Convention, it was formally agreed that to create an inclusive union home for Ontario’s increasingly diverse workforce the identification and removal of all barriers to participation must be an organizational priority.
Just this past week, a dynamic two and half day meeting was held by the Provincial Forum that oversees the Social Mapping Project. Plans were set in place to ensure the project is well resourced, has trained leaders and has committed member mobilizers armed with an innovative outreach program designed for each OPSEU Region.
There’s going to be two phases to this groundbreaking task. This fall, a census of the entire OPSEU membership will create a demographic snapshot of our current membership and staff.
Next year, we’ll focus on identifying and making recommendations about how to remove any systemic barriers to participation in our membership and employment practices. That means having a good, hard look at our internal policies and the full range of programs OPSEU develops. We intend to have a thorough examination of how we may be creating barriers that hinder some members and staff from fully participating or from gaining career opportunities.
This project is emerging as a terrific opportunity for OPSEU – a chance to stay out front as the union of choice in Ontario. To my knowledge, no union in Canada has previously taken on this kind of responsibility. But it only makes sense, doesn’t it? Name another large Canadian union whose diversity, in every respect, is greater than ours. We owe it to our entire membership to lead the way on inclusiveness.
To succeed, we’ll be counting on a very wide buy-in by activists and by rank and file members we have not yet connected with.
Stay tuned for more information and materials. By November, all members will be asked to complete their Social Mapping surveys and will be given an opportunity to count themselves in!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas