This is a big year for OPSEU: It has been 100 years since we were first established in 1911 as the CSAO. In celebration of this centennial anniversary we are having the biggest Convention ever.
Our membership has grown so much that we had to move to a new location. Over 2000 OPSEU members, elected leadership and solidarity guests are coming together for four days at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, a strong advocate for the rights of working people, will be addressing Convention as a guest speaker this year. I also want to extend a warm welcome to visiting union leader and freedom fighter, Archie Sibeko, winner of the 2011 Stanley Knowles Humanitarian Award.
We will be celebrating with not one but two evenings of entertainment. Look forward to major shows on Thursday and Friday. There will be a music night as well as a comedy night, and I can promise that you won’t want to miss the spectacular performances we have planned.
Convention would not be Convention without a solidarity rally — and this year we’re doing it better than ever. Show your OPSEU spirit at three different demonstrations: Following yet another year of the government refusing to open the ballot boxes and count the vote, we’ll be marching to 20 Bay Street, and taking our protest straight to the employer on Thursday, April 7. On Friday, there will be a noon Hospital Professionals Division rally addressing the issue of wait times. Finally, on Saturday, I hope to see you at the OFL rally demanding respect for our workers and communities.
As you can see, we have a schedule packed with great speakers and events. As always though, our Convention agenda has lots of time for the important tasks like debates on union policies and resolutions about campaigns to promote strong, well resourced public services and safe, healthy communities.
It is time for OPSEU to celebrate another great year and a full century of strength as Ontario’s union. See you at Convention 2011!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Ontario Public Service Employees Union