Delegates endorse new
As public sector workers move into
the 2st century, we need a strong union to represent our
interests. Backed by the myth that public services must be cut
so Canada can compete globally, employers are armed with labour
laws that are slanted in their favour.
For the past five years OPSEU has fought off these attacks by
increasing resources for organizing, collective bargaining and
contract enforcement. We’re working to speed up our grievance
system and make it more cost effective. During the 1999 election
we worked to counter the provincial government’s privatization
. As leaders, we need to build momentum. We need to continue
to organize new members; enforce and bargain our collective
agreements; and do everything we can to influence public opinion
This past year, the Executive Board initiated "The
Network for Better Contracts, "to re-energize and
update our core union practices. Among other things, the program
defines the responsibilities of those involved in bargaining and
provides a decisive training program for staff and elected
representatives. As union leaders, we can help this process
along by setting goals that mobilize members around
demand-setting issues and ensuring bargaining teams are
With more and more demands being placed on union activists,
the local leadership program will help build networks of strong
local leaders capable of strategic enforcement of membership
rights and collective agreements. We recognize that this won’t
be easy. It will take time and will require a shared
responsibility between all sectors of OPSEU. .
The Network for Better Contracts will include an
ongoing union-wide program of leadership training and
development for membership and staff, support for member
communications and research, and the best possible co-ordination
of our collective efforts.
Delegates endorsed this initiative overwhelmingly!
"Our society is in an advanced state of collective
dementia, where nursing care is given under a stop-watch and
children are viewed as emerging consumers... "We are not
consumers, we are citizens!"
… Murray Dobbin, Author/Journalist
The Provincial Women s
Annual Breakfast a success
by Laurie Murphy, Local
About 90 members and guests woke up early to attend the 5th
annual PWC breakfast.
While enjoying a beautiful continental breakfast, we listened
to Lisa Han, the co-ordinator of the World March of Women, 2000,
in Ottawa and OPSEU President Leah Casselman.
Lisa is on leave from Arusha Centre in Calgary, Alberta which
is an educational Resource Centre on Social Justice.
Lisa is bringing attention to the issue of poverty and
violence that women endure through the March with coordinated
participation with the CLC.
Sister Casselman challenged the government on family issues
through building stronger language into our collective
The Bread and Roses Award was presented to Sister Elaine
Ellis. This award recognizes a female OPSEU activist who has
worked on behalf of women within OPSEU and the community.
Elaine began her career with OPSEU in 1990 with the Ministry
of Labour as an Occupational Health and Safety Officer. She was
Local President for six years, Vice-President of her area
council, Vice-President of the London and District Labour
Council and Vice-chair of the Administration Bargaining Team in
Elaine volunteered as a counselor for a battered womens
shelter and co-chaired the days of action campaign in London,
Elaine works as a Job Security Officer for Region I and 2.
The breakfast ended with the singing of ‘Bread and Roses
and our continued commitment to fight for all women across the
The labour song Bread and Roses goes back to a 1912 poem by
James Oppenheim, written to honour a massive and successful
strike of mill workers, mostly women, in Lawrence,
Massachusetts. The poem was inspired by a banner carried by some
young women during one of the parades conducted by strikers. On
the banner was the simple slogan: "We want bread and roses
As we go marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts grey.
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people here are singing, "Bread and roses, bread
As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are womens children, and well march
with them again,
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us bread, but give us
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead,
Go crying through our singing their ancient songs of bread
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew,
Yes, it is bread we fight for — But we fight for roses too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring a brighter day,
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler— ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of lifes glories: Bread and roses, bread
Boycott the National Post
The employees of the Conrad Black-owned Calgary
Herald have been on strike against the paper since November
8, 1999. The workers are striking to obtain a first collective
agreement that includes some of the very basic rights enjoyed by
almost all organized workers in Canada.
Delegates directed OPSEU to refuse to subsidize Conrad Black’s
right-wing agenda, and urge all OPSEU members and the public to
join the Canadian Labour Congress boycott of Black’s
neo-conservative flagship paper, the National Post.
Task Force created
A 10 person task force was created to make recommendations
to the Executive Board and report to Convention 2001 regarding
Board structure on representation by division and by region,
following principles of fair representation.
The task force will consist of:
- 2 BPS Members
- 2 CAAT Members
- 2 OPS Members
- 2 Executive Board Members
- 1 Human Rights Committee Member
- I Provincial Women’s Committee Member
Delegates felt that the task force proposed in this
resolution would provide a means to strengthen the members’
sense of belonging to OPSEU regardless of sector.
Enforcing our ‘Collective Agreements’
A lively debate over an emergency resolution, submitted by
Sister Mary Ann White Local 417, ended the Friday afternoon
session of the Convention. The two-part resolution concerns the
scheduling of grievances to arbitration.
The first resolve directs OPSEU to be required to schedule
all grievances dealing with dismissal, layoff, human rights and
harassment. The second resolve deals with the Union cancelling
or ceasing the scheduling of arbitrations due to financial
Delegates at the pro mikes expressed concern over members’
grievances being cancelled, and of employers’ intent to ignore
the collective agreement in the knowledge that the Union could
not afford to fight them. This argument centered on the Union’s
obligation to negotiate collective agreements and then to have
the resolve to enforce them.
Arguments against the resolution centred on the financial
burden the Union would face if forced to take every grievance to
The first part of the resolution passed. The second resolve
will be debated on Saturday.
In a move to strengthen a Board motion, Convention
unanimously voted in favour of stopping all donations to the
Member Diane Smith from Local 153 talked of the
intimidation and harassment her members faced during the 17-week
strike against the Salvation Army London Village.
The delegates amended the motion to request the CLC and the
OFL to also join in the action.
The boycott will continue until the Salvation Army treats its
employees and clients with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Forward Together..... .Celebrating 25 Years’
Yesterday afternoon Convention delegates were witness to the
world premiere of OPSEU’s new video presentation Forward
Together Celebrating 25 Years. The 14 minute video was
produced by the Public and Government Affairs Unit to
commemorate the Union’s 25th anniversary.
Featured in the video were a number of current activists as
well as OPSEU’s four most recent presidents.
Past President Sean O’Flynn reminisced about his
predecessor Charles Darrow and the birth of OPSEU in 1975 when
the old Civil Service Association of Ontario transformed itself
into a real union. He added that just a couple of years later
CAAT Support went on the first legal strike in the Union’s
history and in 1979 he was put in jail when corrections workers
staged an illegal work-stoppage.
James Clancy, who followed Brother O’Flynn as president,
talked on tape about the OPS’s fight for the right to strike -
a right finally achieved during Fred Upshaw’s presidency and
actually carried out during current president Leah Casselman’s
tenure. Brother Upshaw talks about the Union’s successful
fight for involvement in pension trusts and notes with pride the
strength of our current jointly-trusteed pension plans.
Sister Casselman appears on the tape and talks about OPSEU’s
emergence as Ontario’s pre-eminent public sector union with a
well established history of defending public services and the
workers who deliver those services. She recalls OPSEU’s early
involvement in mental health issues, starting with the
publication in 1982 of Madness — the Union’s book on mental
Copies of the video tape are available for $5 at the
‘OPSEU Stuff’ booth near the bottom of the escalators. A
version dubbed in French is available and a closed
caption version will be produced shortly.
Day 1 |
Day 2 | Day 3