Member Profile (November 2018)
Jim Prowse, recently retired union activist, National Gallery of Canada
“I joined PSAC when I started at the gallery in 1992. I worked in a variety of technical areas, including lighting, packing, and installing artwork, both at the gallery and across the country as a Travelling Technician.
I got involved in my union for a couple of reasons: I was involved in other unionized workplaces prior to PSAC and I valued the opportunity to have a say in how I was treated within the workplace. I’m a political person and I had a desire to become involved in improving and maintaining the working conditions for the local.
One of my fondest memories during my involvement with PSAC was as president and bargaining team member during the strike at the National Gallery in 2001. The events that lead to the resolution of the strike are legendary. We won improvements in the collective agreement, monetary increases, and showed the employer we were a united force in the workplace. We put PSAC on the map as well with national press coverage.
The majority of my involvement was as Chief Shop Steward, attending grievance hearings and representing workers. I attended arbitration hearings and provided a vital link between the local and PSAC counsel. We had a number of notable wins and favourable settlements for our members.
Representing members was a huge motivating factor for me. Any members thinking of getting involved with the union should realize that your efforts will be rewarded with a strong sense of justice having been served.
There’s a misunderstanding in the workplace that involvement with the union will take all of your spare time, and I used to think that too, but it’s not necessarily overwhelming and certainly not without reward. When I look back at the great number of colleagues we helped, I know that it was time well spent.”