Different unions work in different ways.
Some unions are loose federations. Their locals and their bargaining units all fly the same flag, and they offer each other words of support. But when it comes to financial support, their members’ dues are mostly in the locals, and they tend to stay there.
That’s not how OPSEU works. Our locals have the money they need to run their operations – and they do a great job of it – but most of our money is held centrally. That means we can move dues dollars where they are needed, when they are needed.
We saw that in the latest round of bargaining for our college faculty members. When they held their strike vote in September, our strike fund stood at $72 million. When the colleges wouldn’t budge on their key issues, they knew they had to strike, and they didn’t hesitate to do it.
Faculty knew our strike fund was there for them. Through five long weeks on the picket lines, it covered their benefits and it covered their strike pay. The strike fund paid for local strike headquarters, portable toilets, safety vests, phones, advertising – you name it.
The result was a powerful strike. At 24 colleges, at over 100 campuses, faculty showed their deep commitment to good jobs and fairness, and they showed that same commitment to quality education for their students. That fight put them in a strong position as they head into mediation and possible arbitration.
When more than 12,000 faculty walked off the job, they were not alone: all OPSEU members were there with them.
That’s the way it is when any of our bargaining units take action. We are all there, shoulder to shoulder. We are one union, standing together, and our union makes us strong.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, Ontario Public Service Employees Union