Convention Recap – What Jim learned
As one of your duly elected alternates to OPSEU Convention 2018, I wanted to share some news and insights I came across. There is good news in this article for everyone and some OPSEU politico type stuff. Either case, I’ll try my best to explain why I think it’s important to you, our OPSEU 468 members!
It was on day one during the Presidential speech we first heard of OPTrust Select (and Smokey signed the new deal right there). OPTrust is the OPSEU OPS Defined Benefit Plan Pension. Defined Benefit Plans (DBPs) are the best pensions because they can clearly tell you upon retirement what you will receive. Other pension plans cannot. However, DBPs have been dwindling and are not so common these days.
With any pension plan, the risk increases for all members of the plan when there are less and less new workers adding to the plan. And, to be honest, this is something that has been whispered about our OPTrust plan. The fact is, there have been fewer and fewer new OPSers. Not to the point of concern, but something to think about.
Well, I’m glad to say that isn’t much of a concern today. The employer side and the OPSEU side of OPTrust has agreed to extend our pension membership base by allowing other public servants and some not-for-profit groups to join into the OPTrust pension plan. These potential new membership groups do need to go through an approval process. But it does mean more people will be joining the plan; continuing to put money into the plan to invest and grow a strong pension for everyone.
The plan is called OPTrust Select. You may have even received an email about it in your inbox. If not, maybe you should update your OPTrust Profile? My last emailed pension statement mentioned something about another 20 years to go before a full pension. UGH!
Negotiating without involving the Negotiating Team
There was a resolution brought to the convention floor regarding negotiating without involving the negotiations team. Convention made a clear mandate to the Executive Board that this is a no-no for the future.
Why is this important to us? Well, remember our Roll Over deal? This was a contract negotiation which did not involve OPSers electing a new negotiations team or reinstating the old team. This was something negotiated behind closed doors with the Central Employee Relations Committee (CERC) and the Executive Board speaking directly to the employer bypassing all OPS Bargaining Rules already in place. Irregardless, if you liked the deal or not, it bypassed normal approved by Convention/OPS Division procedures and was something that got a few people a little riled up (including yours truly). Trust was broken.
The Central Employee Relations Committee (CERC) has announced they have new bylaws/terms of reference that were approved by the Executive Board. YEAH! A new CERC will be elected come this January 2019. A great way to help rebuild the trust. And I hope Frank runs for it (after successfully winning the MOHLTC MERC Chair position).
There has been some conflict between the Executive Board/President’s Office and staff employees of OPSEU which has been a cause of concern for many. Having been a staff employee at OPSEU Corporate Office, I’ve shared some of those concerns. I still remember Smokey’s fervent speech at the last Regional elections sharing his mandate to weed out the “bad influences” of the OPSEU staff employees.
At Convention, there was a remarkably different tone from Smokey. The tone was one of reconciliation. I am a bit hesitant to believe it myself, but I definitely hope there can be forgiveness and a future of good relations between the Executive Board/President’s Office and all employees of OPSEU. The employees of OPSEU are hard working and dedicated people who deserve a right to feel secure in their employment and to feel safe in their workplaces. Hell, most of them started off as OPSEU members like you and me. I like to think I can forgive, I hope I can forgive, but forgetting is tougher.
This is potentially very exciting news. Convention has approved the concept of doing online elections for Locals. There are no details on how this can be done at this time. However, there are many options available which will be reviewed by OPSEU corporate who will share their findings.
But of course you are asking me, “Jim, why is this important to me?” Well, OPSEU 468 has sometimes not met quorum at our general membership meetings. We aren’t alone. This has been an issue for many locals. Stewards feel that allowing online elections will improve membership participation. So do I! People’s time is important to them and giving an easy and secure way to participate online could be the key to get people engaged. Plus, maybe next time I can be elected as a delegate to Convention instead of an alternate. HA!