What is your role in the union?
I’m the President of UTE Local 70030, a component of the PSAC in the National Capital Region. We’re a large Local, and we represent and support members in 5 distinct workplaces and in 5 unique branches and divisions of the CRA. Before the big Workforce Adjustment mess hit us at the CRA, we represented and fought for employees in 7 unique branches and divisions of the Agency. Communication is a huge part of what I do: union outreach throughout the workplace, emails to members, social media, plant-gating and actions at the doors, on the streets or by the desks in the hallways.
As Local President, I lead a team of activists and union representatives who are educating, intervening, empowering and organizing amazing public service workers. It’s important for us to stay on top of the issues and understand the concerns that the members are dealing with. And it’s essential to stay on the ground in all of our workplaces. I love being in daily constant contact with the Local members and community.
When did you first get involved and why?
It took me too long to get involved, to be honest; I should have joined the union years earlier. I spent months writing my expression of interest letter to the Local, to join the Local, and that was back in the spring of 2015. At that time I was sick and tired of seeing folks around me getting treated unfairly. The Employer carrying out microaggressions and never stepping up for fairness and integrity. They were treating my colleagues like disposable parts of a big broken machine. It had to stop. I took issue with some of the performance management tactics used by the Employer. Also, the Employer was going as far as ending peoples’ contracts and taking these administrative, and sometimes disciplinary, actions on people. The Employer had an arbitrary, statistically inaccurate and biased system of assessing employees. I said enough is enough.
At that time, my position involved training employees so as a team leader I was able to connect with many of my colleagues. They became riled-up about the problems around us and I organized with members to show the Employer how the entire system used to extend and end contracts and to assess employees was wrong.
We fought for and won big changes in the workplace. Thankfully, the Employer recognized their mistakes and they changed their whole performance management system in my workplace. I told the bosses that I would not go gentle again if problems like that continued. All of a sudden, I was no longer getting acting assignments as a team leader and I was no longer training others. So I joined the union. The fights and the wins have been increasingly righteous and constant since then!
What are some of victories and campaigns you’ve worked on?
We’ve recently succeeded in getting gender-neutral washrooms into the workplace. We’ve raised and supported complaints of Workplace Violence, Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Harassment in the workplace. As a team, we’ve mobilized whole divisions of members to hold the Employer accountable and to establish significant changes in our shops.
As Local President, I’m a huge advocate of decentralized organizing which is connecting members to members and sometimes in very big groups. This part of my role inspires me the most. We give members the tools and strategies to develop their own workplace specific campaigns and strategic actions. As a group, we develop concrete and deliverable goals.
In my role, I’m able to act, speak and stand up for worker’s rights with a loud clear voice for the members. I’m also honoured to share the word about their campaigns and their concerns.
What would you say to others who are thinking about getting involved?
Just do it! Make it happen, join the Local union and find your groove. Bring your passions and your skills into the workplace. Connect these with innovative colleagues that want to make a change. It’s almost unbelievable what you can do when you work together and raise your voice every single day in the workplace: people power forces change. And every single day there’s some change that needs to take place. Make the change happen, and be that change.