Rolling with the (pandemic) punches means listening to members 


We’ve experienced many changes this year and COVID-19 has forced us all to rethink how we do most things. But if there’s one thing that’ll never change at OPSEU/SEFPO it’s our sense of duty to every member of our union family.

We’re here to help and that’s why I’m so pleased to announce the brand new Communications Rebate – it’s a one-time payment of $500 for every OPSEU/SEFPO local in the province to help them improve communication with members during these tough times.

As First Vice-President/Treasurer, it’s my job to make sure we’re providing the tools and resources that our members need – at work and within our union. It’s not just about dollars and cents but what makes sense for members on the ground. That is why I was so thrilled by the feedback we received during our Local Presidents’ Telephone Town Halls at the end of last year.

During those Town Halls, our Local Presidents identified the barriers they’ve faced and the new methods they’ve been using to communicate with members, like using Zoom for virtual meetings. But new methods come with new costs, and our Local Presidents also identified the need for additional funds to help them out.

I’m proud to say that as a result, OPSEU/SEFPO’s entire Executive Board voted in favour of establishing a new $500 rebate to support our locals.

We know that OPSEU/SEFPO members are the beating heart of the union and that Local Presidents have their finger on the pulse. But COVID-19 restrictions – and fewer in-person activities – have made things harder. So we’re rolling with the pandemic’s punches and arming our locals with the resources and flexibility they need for changing times.

Like I’ve said before, we’ve had challenges this year, but opportunities too. With fewer planned in-person activities both centrally and regionally, there will be some related savings. The Executive Board voted to use some of those savings for this one-time payment of $500, which will be sent out automatically to all locals that are up-to-date with their Trustee Audit Reports – so it’s really hassle free, with no strings attached.

And this is in addition to the many other benefits and rebates that locals currently qualify for – like their quarterly rebates, Area and Labour Council rebates and the Communications Incentive Fund, which offers a one-time grant to help locals set up secure online communications.

We’re giving our locals the resources they need in these pandemic times, and we’re planning for a brighter future by investing in resources like the newly purchased Frost Centre so that we’re ready for the road ahead, when we can be together – in-person – again.

We’ve also been hard at work organizing new members to address growing interest and demand for union protection during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, issues like job security and workplace health and safety have taken centre stage.

At OPSEU/SEFPO, we’re always happy to share our good news and bring new members into our union family, but open communication is key to making those relationships work long-term. That’s why we remain focused on supporting our locals and building up our union’s capacity.

We’ve all had to do things a little differently, but that’s what rolling with the pandemic punches is all about. We’ll continue to listen to our members, and as issues arise I’m committed, as always, to bringing those concerns to the board to represent your interests.

Members’ needs may change, but our dedication and commitment never will.

In solidarity,

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer
Twitter: @OPSEUEddy

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