Welcome to 2019! I hope you’ve all had a chance to enjoy the holidays and spend some quality time with your families and friends. Last year was busy and we have a lot to be proud of.
Being with loved ones also reminds us about who we are and what we stand for. I didn’t come from a wealthy family. My parents were farmers who worked hard all their lives. They taught me the value of a dollar and that you need to be prepared for whatever life throws your way.
That’s why as OPSEU’s First Vice-President and Treasurer, I value the money our members contribute to keep the union strong and have made it my mission to make sure those dollars are being spent wisely. Our members pay union dues of 1.375 per cent of their gross pay – that works out to be about $97 million annually to maintain a huge network of support and services directly for our members and their locals, including a robust strike fund to back them up during negotiations.
Careful stewardship over how that money is spent is a big responsibility, and one that I take very seriously. The buck stops here. That is why we’ve been vigilant in carefully tracking every penny that you have trusted us to look after. We’ve found ways to save money in a variety of areas. One example is paid advertising. We don’t need to spend as much on ads because we’re out there getting extensive media coverage in newspapers, radio, TV and online. When Smokey and OPSEU speak out, people care. People listen.
We’ve done a lot of hard work to ensure OPSEU is in a great financial position, in large part due to the diligent stewardship of successive Executive Boards. Without their efforts and the support of our members, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Which leads me to the good news. I’m proud to say that OPSEU ended 2018 with our best audit ever! We’re $100,000 in the black. Being in a strong financial position is the best way to be prepared for the Ford government bringing in an austerity budget aimed at slashing services and increasing privatization. By working together, we can stop them from dismantling everything we’ve built in this province. And we’re going to do it by spending smart, fighting smart and staying united.
Here are some of the resources that Locals can tap into to help get the message out about Ford’s destructive agenda:
Local Ford Fight Back Fund: We’re putting aside $500,000 to help Locals mobilize their members, engage with politicians and hold community events to raise awareness about the PC agenda. Funds will also be provided for incidentals like food and travel. (Where possible, employer “bill backs” should be used. If not, the member completes an expense claim form for lost wages for reimbursement.) The fund will initially be divided at $60,000 per region.
Local Time-Off Fund: This fund helps Locals run the business of the Local. The maximum reimbursement for time off has increased to $35 per member in good standing per year – up from $25 – with $28 being funded centrally and $7 funded by the Local.
Local Start-Up Fund: The funding to help offset any start-up costs associated with bringing in a new unit has increased to $2,500 from $1,000. This fund is available to new locals waiting for their first collective agreement, or newly organized units that don’t yet have a contract.
Local Rebate: Smaller locals will benefit from an increase in the minimum local rebate, which has doubled to $1,000 per quarter from $500.
OPSEU’s on the front lines of this fight and we’re in the best position ever to protect the public services that our members and everyone in this province depend on.
I think my parents would be proud.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
Ontario Public Service Employees Union