We have successfully reached new agreements for members in the Ontario Public Service and Corrections, capping a very busy two years. We couldn’t have accomplished this without the dedication of all our elected local representatives and your provincial Executive Board.
We have weathered a veritable “perfect storm” of bargaining and organizing, and we have made great strides in a number of areas: securing union rights for part-timers and negotiating new contracts for thousands of members in colleges, government and numerous agencies.
While there are still many battles to be fought — and certainly not all will be won, union work being neither perfect nor ever finished – they are the people who give their personal time and energy to make sure that our union fires on all cylinders.
At the provincial level, I’ve had the opportunity to observe first-hand the work of our Executive Board Members. They have logged thousands of kilometers and put in hundreds of hours on behalf of OPSEU — campaigning on issues, advising locals, organizing and welcoming new members and units, and participating in long meetings where important decisions are made. They are a pretty effective bunch.
And while we have not always agreed on every issue – OPSEU debates are legendary – your Board has been exemplary in its respect for each others’ views. Our Executive Board meetings and committee meetings customarily take up many days each month, yet I have not seen the personal invective and acrimony that has characterized past Boards.
We respect our differences of opinion, and when we make decisions, we are united in carrying them out. We keep our eyes on the prize.
To name just a few initiatives taken over the past year, your Board has:
- Launched a new pension plan for the Broader Public Service;
- Approved new spending to combat layoffs and cutbacks in our hospitals;
- Promoted huge pay equity settlements through the hiring of a new consultant;
- Helped organize more than 2,000 new OPSEU members, including 700 at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario;
- Expanded our ability to handle grievance arbitrations in a more timely manner;
- Supported a Local Capacity Building project to help locals cope with the workload;
- Won legislated bargaining rights for 20,000 college part-timers;
- Made sure there was a strong union voice in the federal election campaign;
- Voted to support issue campaigns for Blood Services, ODSP, Child Treatment Centres and many other issues;
- Committed OPSEU to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our operations, and other greening opportunities;
- Created Regional Hardship Committees to assist members in distress;
- Promoted an end to workplace violence through province-wide workshops in many sectors.
The list goes on, and so does the work.
So on behalf of all of OPSEU, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Executive Board Members for their work over the past two years.
We appreciate your dedication and your self-sacrifices made on behalf of your union.
You help keep us strong.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas