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Convention 2012: A baptism of fire

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Convention 2012 will go down as one of the most eventful in our storied history. It was to be expected. A call for a dues levy in this economic climate will do that.

It was just what our union needed.

Passionate debate. Exchanging of ideas. A clash of philosophies. But in the end we achieved unity and agreement. The enemy was not within the walls of Convention. The real enemy to working people remains the corporate elite agenda that threatens our very existence. 

Convention provides democratic opportunity. It is our supreme ruling body. While the majority of that delegation agreed with the Executive Board’s recommendation for a short-term dues levy, the resolution did not receive the 2/3 majority called for in our Constitution.

I have the utmost respect and appreciation for those delegates who respectfully and thoughtfully worked towards unity rather than divisiveness. However, to this day, it never fails to amaze me how some who claimed to have the all the answers came up empty when asked the question. In this circumstance the question was: Where are the savings they promised? What happened was what many had predicted: “Savings” were achieved at the cost of member education, equity, and funds to free up activists.

Let me set the record straight. OPSEU is not broke or in financial peril. We have a very healthy balance sheet…the envy of many. OPSEU does not waste your dues. My exhaustive review indicated that we are a lean, mean fighting machine, if the situation calls for it.

OPSEU’s line of credit situation is not a new phenomenon. We have been against the line of credit ceiling for a decade or more. Fighting for justice and quality public services is expensive. We punch way above our financial weight in the court of public opinion. We will continue to do so.

The temporary dues levy would have allowed us to save interest on the line of credit. It would have given us a cushion to take on the fight before us. But these are austerity times and on behalf of the Executive Board I accept that we had to find better ways to do business. And collectively we did.

The interest and dividends from our approximate $60 million strike fund will backstop our fightback campaign. It will provide us the necessary resources to continue our campaign for quality public services and tax fairness. It sends a clear message that, as always, OPSEU members get it. We are bigger than core services. Increasingly we are becoming the voice of a struggling middle class. Our position will pay future dividends as we grow our union in both numbers and resources.

With a provincial election temporarily averted, we must now collectively focus on the challenges ahead. With over 200 contracts to bargain (including CAAT (A) and the OPS) we will be drawing on all of our expertise and strength.

I would like to thank Brother Smokey publically for his support on all fronts in my role as 1st Vice-President/Treasurer. I also commend him for his excellent job of running what at times seemed to be a Robert’s Rules nightmare.

Thanks must be given to Board Members who worked so hard during the budget talks and brought all they could during those difficult decisions.

A big thank you goes to the delegates of Convention and all others that participated. It is you and the members at home and on the front lines that make this work always worthwhile.

This I know: OPSEU members will come together and present a united force, the likes of which has never been seen before.

And we will do it within the parameters set by Convention. I will enforce the direction given. That is my ongoing commitment. United, we always win.  

In solidarity,

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU

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