We’re living through a time where it’s hard to say what the next week, month, or year will look like. This year has forced us to get comfortable living with uncertainty.
I’ve been spending almost all of my time recently planning OPSEU/SEFPO’s budget for the upcoming year, and the biggest challenge is anticipating, what will 2021 look like?
I’ve had to make a lot of tough choices throughout my time as First Vice President/Treasurer, and budget planning this year is no different.
Our annual budget is shaped around the three pillars of our union – bargaining, defending and enforcing our collective agreements, and organizing. Many things have changed because of this pandemic, but those three pillars remain strong. I’d say they are now more important than ever.
Over the next year, as we navigate the uncertainty that this pandemic brings, OPSEU/SEFPO will continue to be vigilant in protecting our members’ rights. This pandemic has shown us the importance of the work that OPSEU/SEFPO members do. Unfortunately, we’ve had member layoffs in some areas, but for the most part, our members’ jobs have remained secure.
Having a strong contingency fund will be a high priority in our upcoming budget. We’ve always had funds ready for emergencies, but this pandemic is something we’ve never faced before. I plan to put more resources into that fund, so we will be prepared to react quickly to any challenges our members may face.
Next month, I’ll be meeting with OPSEU/SEFPO’s Officers and Executive Board to discuss the union’s plans for 2021. While we’re on hold in some ways regarding our usual events and activities, we’re still moving ahead in the new and temporary normal.
This might be the way we have do things for the immediate future, but OPSEU/SEFPO is stronger than ever. Financially, we are secure – our revenue remains stable – and I watch every penny of members’ money that is being spent. We have been fortunate, thus far through this pandemic to maintain our workforce as an employer. Our staff continue to do great work with our locals, divisions, and sectors. And, as we go through these uncertain times, I will make sure that our budget allows for even greater support for our locals and local leadership. Because I believe members are the heart of OPSEU and locals are the lifeblood. Our Constitution enshrines those principles.
Our budget will also include resources for organizing opportunities. There are many workers out there who haven’t had the protection of a strong union to defend their rights. They’ve suffered painfully during this pandemic. They haven’t had a strong voice to protect their jobs, ensuring fair wages, or fight for health and safety standards. Providing that voice allows opportunity for OPSEU/SEFPO to grow, and for our entire membership to become even more cohesive and powerful.
There are many uncertainties associated with this pandemic, but the strength of our union is something we can all count on. Together, we won’t ever stop working. And together, we will prevail.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida