OPSEU Democracy – Building Our Union Together


As delegates make their plans for Convention 2012, the energy levels across OPSEU are on the rise. You are this union’s highest decision making body. Once informed, you will make important decisions about where this union will be in the years to come by casting your vote on the many resolutions and motions presented to you.

OPSEU members will be facing a very tough year. The March 27th Ontario budget will be proof of this and we know that the pressures we all face will be tremendous. Added to our pressures is the fact that many members will be at the bargaining table. We’ll measure that budget carefully. We’ll also look at whether it is on the right track for Ontario families. Does the budget promote quality public services? Will the budget promote prosperity or austerity? Do government plans increase or decrease income equality? Is the government interested in tax fairness to pay for quality services?

I think that we already know the answer.

As we fight draconian budgets, campaign and lobby for change and work to preserve our precious public service and jobs we treasure, our resources will be strained like never before.

OPSEU’s Executive Board is recommending a temporary dues levy to help to fund the work needed to fight back the austerity measures we know are coming. For less than the cost of a Tim Horton’s coffee each week, you have the power to give us the resources we need to fight back. A temporary levy would increase our dues rate from 1.375 percent to 1.5 percent. In 2014, you can decide if you want your dues calculation to remain at 1.5 percent.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about where the money from the dues levy will go. The constitution requires that all dues collected go into the general fund. The constitution goes further to say that 5 percent of the general revenue be directed to the strike fund. Outside of this requirement, the delegates can decide where the money is best used. Given the tough months ahead for Ontario, we’ve suggested that education and campaigns are the most appropriate place to have extra resources, but in the end, delegates can direct the union otherwise by amending the proposed motion or bringing forward new motions to convention.

We all know there are few perfect solutions, especially when you ask the delegates representing 130,000 OPSEU members any question. The dues levy motion presented by the Executive Board tried to come as close to perfection as possible. The Board also knew that added adjustments could come from convention delegates.

Simply put, any delegate who feels that an additional detail or change to the wording could improve the resolution is able to make an amendment to it. Other motions to direct the union about dues matters can also be made at convention. The rules of order used at convention provide for this. 

I know some of OPSEU’s best decisions have come from situations where a proposal was amended by delegates to make it even better. The temporary dues levy motion is no different.

At Convention 2012, I hope all of you discuss the actions OPSEU will take to address the challenges we now face. I know some may say OPSEU should impose austerity measures and forget about a dues increase. Brothers and Sisters, I’ve been through the books, I’ve looked for savings at every turn. The truth is, if you want to continue to have good service, if you want to have the resources to fight this government, if you want us to lobby and campaign and garner the support we need, then give us the resources that we need to do it. I hope your future is worth the cost of a Tim Horton’s coffee once a week.

As our debates take place at Convention we should feel good that our OPSEU is a very democratic place. Our decision-making process encourages all members to play a role. A lot of studies show that the best decisions are made when a lot of people get involved through comments and contributions. OPSEU’s Constitution and Convention Rules of Order promote just this.

In solidarity,

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

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