Why am I running? OPSEU is losing its way. We are losing ground in practically every area that matters to the membership. The past decade has been a period of concessions to employers, mounting privatization, weaker collective agreements, multi-tiered contracts and wage settlements that keep falling behind inflation. We must do better.
We must rebuild our power
Why change leaders? All too often, head office has failed to build an effective fight-back. As President, I will not interfere with bargaining teams who want to take the fight to the employer. I will ensure resources are available to support our mobilizing efforts and I will help build the energy and determination our members need to fight concessions and win. I will defend our right to strike and our strike fund. We need to show our strength, not retreat in fear. The tone is set at the top. I believe that member driven mobilization and the power of job action is what OPSEU needs.
What happened to our principled opposition to multi-tiered contracts? Thousands of members, usually younger workers with less seniority, now face new, lower steps on the current salary grids, and years more work to reach the top of their grids. And like many others, they face rising future premiums for pension plan benefits. This is the wrong way to show new members the union has their back.
What about our fight against privatization? We all oppose privatization. I actively support the ‘We Own It’ campaign – and have worked hard to support our mobilizers and build the campaign in Region 5. What I oppose is the $4.5 million raid on the strike fund to finance the campaign. I support any real fight against privatization. Always have. Always will. But let’s be honest about our track record. Over the past 10 years we have been losing ground. We have failed to leverage public opposition to privatization into real results.
Defending our union democracy
Asking questions, raising issues or proposing ways we can be more effective is never a betrayal of our union. Open discussion, debate and the right to dissent is the very foundation of democracy, including union democracy. It is how we build a more powerful OPSEU. I have a proven track-record of listening to everyone and encouraging all leaders and activists in my region, even if they hold different viewpoints. That is what OPSEU needs in a President.
EBMs are elected to serve the members, not the President. I will not demand loyalty oaths, blanket endorsements of my performance or blank cheques for the future, as happened at the March 2017 Board meeting – and was then expanded to the membership as a whole. I objected to this at the Board and I object to it now. This is no way to build solidarity.
Building our internal democracy requires that we remove barriers so that all members can participate. True equity includes listening to the diverse voices in OPSEU and making space for them to lead. We must apply an equity lens to all of our work. It cannot be a token afterthought.
I will not air OPSEU’s internal differences in the media. That weakens us. Instead, I will work to rebuild a positive, respectful partnership with OPSEU’s frontline staff, and our local, sector and divisional leadership. Like you, I know how hard it is – and how much it weakens our union – when OPSEU activists and leaders have to answer for the latest embarrassing scandal or dispute with our staff, our labour allies or OPSEU’s elected leaders.
Making change happen together
At our Convention on April 7, your vote can change OPSEU’s leadership and put our union back on track. You can pass judgment on the incumbent and consider the challenger. That, too, is a fundamental part of our union democracy.
Under my leadership, we will make real reforms in the way OPSEU operates. These reforms will be guided by basic union principles of respect, democracy and solidarity. In the coming days, I will be sharing my ideas and asking you to join me in this campaign to rebuild our power in OPSEU.
By combining our experience, knowledge and dedication, we can take on any challenge.
Vice-President, OPSEU Region 5