Since President Thomas announced his retirement last month, many of our great union’s members have encouraged me to run for President. I am deeply humbled by the confidence so many of you have shown in me, and I appreciate the support. If the members of Region 2 grant me the privilege of being one of their representatives on the Executive Board, I intend to seek re-election as First Vice-President/Treasurer.
Some of you may be disappointed in my decision not to seek the office of President. I believe it is important to maintain some stability in our union and with my experience I can assist whoever is elected President. I can work with anyone who the members choose – my commitment has always been, and always will be, to the membership.
When I was elected, we had a substantial deficit, but we are now on strong financial ground. For example, we were locked into a number of uncompetitive contracts and we had to make arrangements to get out of them to be more fiscally responsible. We needed to put a number of contracts out for bids. I have worked hard to ensure we do not waste money. We have actually returned money to the locals over the past two years above the normal rebates. I realize this was not a priority for some, but I understand what it is like to be a leader in a local and I know it is even harder during these times.
We also gave locals an additional $500 for communications and doubled the hardship funds. This is on top of the Area and Labour Council rebate and the Communications Incentive funds. We also made the 80/20 book off fund, 100 per cent centrally funded.
We have achieved all of this with no staff layoffs. In fact, we are now looking at increasing staff given the fact our union’s membership has nearly doubled in the past decade. Our tough, but responsible approach to getting our financial house in order sets an example for the Employers where our members work. Our continuing increase in membership, especially during a pandemic, is a credit to the skills of our staff. We have won many victories over the past years with negotiating collective agreements successfully and fighting employers that have tried to reduce staff using the pandemic as an excuse.
We still have a major fight on our hands to get rid of the unconstitutional Bill 124, which effectively cuts the wages of public sector workers in every workplace, no matter whether unionized or not. We must keep that in mind with a provincial election coming up.
When I successfully ran for First Vice-President/Treasurer in 2011, I said I would always listen to members and represent your interests and priorities. I have always tried to do that. We have come a long way and have chalked up a lot of wins, but there is so much more to do.
This is a job that I love like no other I have ever had. I am blessed with being part of such a great union.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer