What is your role (s) in the union?
I am a junior shop steward for local 70395 and was just recently elected the Membership Officer – my first union executive role.
When did you get involved and why?
I became involved with the union because I wanted to increase the number of potential contacts union members have access to if they have a question, a comment, or would like to talk to someone about the collective agreement, or an issue in the workplace.
What are some of the goals or issues you want to work on?
I want to make sure that as many members as possible feel more comfortable talking to the union about their experiences, their interests, and the challenges they face in the workplace, without judgement or pressure. Our union leaders are meant to represent the interests of the union members, and the only way we can do that is to keep the lines of communication open and active, across the broad spectrum of diversity that is our union members. To that effect, I’m looking forward to meeting new union members as they come in to our local, and to be a friendly face that they can approach in the future.
What would you say to others who are thinking about getting involved?
It’s important to remember that baby steps are ok. When I first considered becoming more active in my local, I was worried that the only way to do that would be to take on an executive role, and I didn’t feel ready for that yet. But there are many ways to support your union without taking on too much all at once. Just attending your union’s meetings goes a long way toward strengthening the sense of community within the union – and that’s where the union gets its strength.
And if you would like to become more active, but are not comfortable taking on an executive position, the best options to get your feet wet include taking training courses (especially Talking Union Basics) or offering to serve as a union steward. Your local executive may have other small challenges that could use an extra hand, so don’t be afraid to ask, and don’t be afraid to be honest about what you’re comfortable committing to.