What is your role (s) in the union?
I am currently the President of my UTE Local, Chair of the PSAC Regional Health & Safety Committee (HSC) and the Employee Co-chair of my Local HSC. I’ve been an active union leader for about seven years and one common thread in all my roles is that I become a conduit between the members and management.
When did you first get involved and why?
My involvement in the union, which began seven years ago, stemmed from two circumstances. As part of my Local H&S committee, the Employee Co-Chair at the time kept asking me to get involved and help as a Shop Steward. I hesitated for about a year (because of my own workload demands) before finally agreeing! It all changed when I went to one of the Local’s AGM and realized what the union actually does for its members.
In my roles, I’ve acted as a witness for members where, in my opinion, they were bullied and yet, they never spoke up to the employer, management or their union about their issues. I’ve always been able to defend and speak up for myself, however, there are many who cannot. By joining my Local I realized that I can help these members and be their voice when they are unable to do so!
What are some of the victories and campaigns you’ve worked on?
Every time I win a grievance, negotiate a better outcome, reduce the severity of a disciplinary action, provide peace of mind and even ensure that a member’s position is protected, I consider that a victory! As the Regional HSC Chair, I am also part of the Regional Executive and part of the role is participating in Regional and/or National campaigns. For instance, I’ve been involved in the campaign to fix Phoenix crisis and had the opportunity to make calls to members to inform them of upcoming information sessions; this was very educational and enlightening. Further, there have been numerous occasions where I was called to partake in the rallies or demonstrations in the National Capital Region and with our Component.
What would you say to others who are thinking about getting involved?
I would say stop thinking about it and do it! Not only are you helping the membership, but you are also helping yourself by learning new skills, leadership, team work and public speaking - just to mention a few. The benefits and rewards will definitely outweigh the cost!