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Ask not what your union can do for you

OPSEU Vice President Eddy Almeida
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My last blog struck a positive chord with the majority of you who wrote in and I’m glad it did because that is why I wrote it.

I come from a large family and sometimes I had to speak in plain and blunt terms to get everyone’s attention. The same is true of the other large family I love and deeply care for – my OPSEU family.

It’s why I get passionate about what needs to be done.

The most important point I hope everyone takes from my previous blog is that we must focus on the outside forces that threaten us, and stop being preoccupied with internal distractions.

The real crunch time with Doug Ford and his government is just months away and we have to be ready.

Before Ford’s election, many of our biggest bargaining units wisely negotiated extension agreements. This has bought us some time to prepare for a big fight, but we shouldn’t throw away that preparation time by getting sidetracked with internal OPSEU politics and disputes over perceived entitlements.

Those contracts are all soon up for negotiation (2021 and 2022) and they cover more than 100,000 of our members – that’s 100,000 jobs at stake.

The Conservatives are buckling in the opinion polls and we all know that desperate politicians can do desperate and nasty things to distract the public.

Just look at how they’re demonizing educational workers right now.

Things can get very ugly, very quickly and we must be focused and ready to hit the Conservatives back hard if they try to distort and misrepresent the very legitimate and reasonable demands we are going to fight for at the bargaining table.

We only need to look at the lock-out at Regina’s Co-op Refinery to see the vicious and underhanded tactics that employers can resort to. Unifor National President Jerry Dias, who has been a great friend of OPSEU, and more than a dozen other Unifor members were arrested for exercising their constitutional right to walk a picket line. Those workers have been locked out for nearly two months!

Do any of us really believe that our employers won’t use the same tactics? Of course we don’t.  We just need to look back at the strike in Owen Sound a couple of summers ago to see how low bad bosses can go.

I spent some time in Regina and was proud to see so many members of OPSEU’s Executive Board and OPSEU’s committees brave the cold Prairie weather to support our friends from Unifor.

Experience is the best teacher and I’m hoping that sending members to Saskatchewan will pay off handsomely down the road. 

The leaders who unselfishly volunteered to go to Regina have learned some important lessons about successful picketing in a very tense dispute where workers are literally fighting for their livelihoods.  I want them to pass those lessons on to everyone in our family – I hope we won’t have to put them to use here at home, but just because I’m hopeful doesn’t mean I’m naive.

I’m pleased lots of folks noticed my last blog. Watching how your dues are spent is more than my job, it’s a passion for me. I’m doing it to make sure we have the resources we need for the real threats to OPSEU – the threats coming from outside our family.

We must be on the lookout for those whose ultimate goal would be to dismantle every single thing we’ve built together. We must be focused. But most importantly, my dear OPSEU family, we must be  united! To paraphrase the late John F Kennedy; sometimes ask not what your union can do for you, but what you can do for our union. 

In solidarity,

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer
@OPSEUEddy

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