With the holiday season here, while not forgetting the challenges ahead, let’s look back on what we accomplished. It is the time to kick back and focus on what is most important: family, friends and the power of solidarity – our personal support system and safety net!
We should celebrate 2013, an historic year for OPSEU. Much happened because we all pulled together in the same direction. Let's look at our successes.
As your 1st VP Treasurer, I am proud to confirm that we have left our line of credit behind while keeping our operating costs under control. At the same time, OPSEU has continued to make gains, negotiating contracts for members – although given the fiscal situation, modest ones.
Improvements have been made to many union properties, including head office, the remodeling of our Coopers (Mississauga) office, major repairs in Orillia and our move to a modern Hamilton regional office.
We have also changed our look by rebranding to better reflect to others who we are. We are Ontario's Union for Changing Times. We continue to grow, setting a new record for Organizing by adding more than 2,500 new members to OPSEU. We continue to have a high media profile giving our member a strong voice, province-wide.
And yes, due to these successes, we remain a target for our enemies.
I am proud of our accomplishments. They would not have been possible without our members and their dedication to the democratic process. Democracy, transparency and accountability are OPSEU’s foundation.
Our budget making process is one example, starting with staff, working with activists, to preparing recommended spending options. That proposal comes to the elected Officers for review and revision. It then goes to the elected Executive Board for additional debate and change. Once complete, the document is presented by the 1st Vice President/Treasurer to Convention, where more than 800 elected delegates representing 130,000 members have their say. Convention, OPSEU’s governing body, can alter the budget by proposing amendments. A majority vote is required to approve any change. At these votes, a provincial union officer or a delegate from a small local in a remote area are equals. One delegate equals one vote. When debate and amendments are completed, the Convention votes to approve the budget.
Throughout the year our books are subjected to regular audits by an elected committee from the Executive Board. Annually, the financials are also rigorously scrutinized by external professional auditors. An audit report is provided to Convention.
If Ontario political parties followed a similar process, there would be a lot less scandal. Transparency though, isn't the goal for our political elite.
I'm convinced they like systems that support scandal. Scandal detracts from government. Destroying people is much easier than helping them. Scandal and secrecy is easier than exposing the truth, taking responsibility for it, and then doing the hard work needed to turn things around.
Our members demand transparency. They expect results. They know their dues go towards making life more fair and equitable for working people, their families and their communities. With dues at 1.375 percent of income, most agree that's a pretty good investment.
Taking responsibility and working hard is the OPSEU way. That's why we continue to grow in numbers and influence. That is why 2014 is going to be our best year yet.
Know any politicians who can say the same right now? My guess is that the upcoming year is going to mark the career end for many of our staunchest critics. They will fall victim to the wedges they created. OPSEU doesn't look for fights, but we won't walk away from them either.
So let’s look towards 2014 as a year of political and personal activism. OPSEU members will get their money’s worth from their union. We will be a positive influence by helping make Ontario a more decent, equitable and progressive place.
Thank you for your support and hard work. Best wishes for a peaceful, joyous and restful holiday season and New Year. May it be filled with love, health and happiness!
Eddy (Eduardo) Almeida
1st Vice President / Treasurer