On September 8th, OPSEU’s Executive Committee made history by conducting their very first meeting via videoconferencing. This is a large and important first step for our union, one that will reap benefits far into the future.
We’re a traditional lot. When we think of the word “meeting,” most of us picture sitting around a table, face to face, exchanging ideas, sharing information and planning goals. The need for that kind of human contact will always be necessary. But as we embrace emerging technologies and mind our commitments to green initiatives, there are now attractive alternatives to “getting together.”
From just a cost-savings perspective, videoconferencing will be an invaluable tool for OPSEU. We are a province-wide union, and many of our committees are elected on a Regional basis. Just one traditional single-day meeting can cost thousands of dollars in mileage, meals, air travel and hotels. That doesn’t include the ultimate cost of time spent just travelling back and forth.
We are moving forward with this technology. Soon, every OPSEU office will be equipped with the hardware and software to make videoconferencing as easy and simple as picking up a telephone. The Executive Board, bargaining teams, committees and even OPSEU staff will be able to meet at less cost, and more frequently if needed. All the money that the union doesn’t pay to airlines, oil companies and hotel chains can then be re-directed right back into member services…where that money is needed the most.
The additional bonus is obviously our reduced impact on the environment that results from less travel.
As I said earlier, we will never eliminate the need to sit down and meet face to face. But every time we are able to accomplish our goals with a reduced cost, every member of OPSEU wins.
Change can be difficult, and even a little scary. But then again, who would have thought 20 years ago that websites, cell phones, Facebook and YouTube would become such an integral part of being an OPSEU member? I see a day, not too far off, where videoconferencing becomes just another tool we take for granted. And we will wonder, just like with all of our other technologies, how we lived without it.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU