OPSEU/SEFPO’s equity committee and caucus chairs hosted Executive Board members, sector and MERC chairs, and the senior staff of the union at Joint Leadership Day this week in Toronto.
Joint Leadership Day is an annual event which brings the provincial, regional and sectoral leaders of the union together to focus on incorporating equity into all processes and activities of the union. This year’s theme was “Smashing silos: Team building within OPSEU/SEFPO.”
President JP Hornick and First Vice-President/Treasurer Laurie Nancekivell opened the event with a commitment to put equity at the center of everything the union does, and to ensure that the union’s resources are dedicated to meeting the needs of all members, including those from equity-deserving groups as we set our budget for next year.
The elected leaders and senior staff spent the day working together to make concrete, meaningful and permanent changes to the way planning takes place in the union, so that equity is incorporated into every stage of making decisions, policies and procedures.
They were assisted in this task by two guest speakers, Karl Flecker and Lynne Dupuis, who provided analysis and a workplan for the participants to consider while working together in breakout groups.
Flecker analyzed the political and social environment unions are working within currently. Promising social movements and campaigns like MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and Every Child Matters have been a progressive force for change. But they have also faced right-wing backlash from movements like the freedom convoy and the Conservative politicians who support them – creating polarization and division.
Flecker stressed that, given the polarized external environment, it is more important than ever for union leaders to break down traditional, disconnected leadership structures and culture and reach out across any divides or silos that have built up within our union. That way the union can more effectively collaborate and connect with social movements to build solidarity and power for all workers.
Dupuis provided a work plan with five ingredients needed to achieve sustainable change: a vision/goal, incentives, skills, resources, and a plan. The participants used Dupuis’ workbook during their breakout sessions as a tool to help them make concrete plans for building equity into future activities, right from the planning stages.
At noon, an Indigenous Survivors flag-raising ceremony took place at the OPSEU/SEFPO Head Office across the street, which was attended by staff and members, and livestreamed to staff in other offices across the province. Joint Leadership Day participants attended the ceremony and then resumed their meeting afterwards.
After having in-depth conversations in their breakout groups, the day ended with all participants coming together and presenting their ideas to the larger group. The Equity Chairs will meet again in November to review the ideas raised and make recommendations for action.