PSAC BC and Metro Vancouver Alliance: Finding common ground and working for the common good.

PSAC members in BC are actively involved with the work of Metro Vancouver Alliance, a broad based alliance of community groups, labour, faith and educational institutions, all working together for the common good.

MVA was founded in 2009 and is comprised of almost 40 affiliated organizations, representing 200,000 people in the Greater Vancouver area. Members of MVA come from all walks of life: union locals, faith congregations, youth groups, neighborhood houses, co-ops, academic departments and community non-profits.

Jamey Mills, President of the Vancouver Area Council, explains:

“Our Area Council was one of the founding members of MVA almost five years ago. We thought it was important that PSAC, as an organization, be involved with bettering our communities and that we reach out to non-traditional partners. By working together on common issues, we will be more effective at creating positive change.”

There are community alliances like MVA in the US, Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and notably in England, where Citizens UK – a group based on the MVA community organizing model – persuaded the London Olympic Games Committee to become a living wage employer and is at the forefront of the City of London Living Wage Campaign.

These broad-based community organizations operate on the principle of ‘power before program’. In other words, they build strong relationships amongst diverse groups in the community, come together to listen to their members’ concerns, agree on issues that can be worked on together, and then move forward with a campaign.

Jennifer Horsley, a member of UPCE Local 20095, got involved with MVA after attending a listening workshop.

“I thought it was really amazing that such diverse and sometimes divergent groups could come together and end up talking about the same issues.” she says, “I think the PSAC BC should be involved because this is a movement that has a lot to offer us in terms of learning to listen to our members – not just about workplace issues – but about things that affect all of us.”

On March 19, 2014, dozens of representatives from each member organization, 600 people in total, will gather at Metro Vancouver Alliance’s Founding Assembly, where the results of the listening workshops will be announced, and the first MVA campaign will be launched.

Tracy Shudo, a PSAC member who works at Service Canada, will be there.

“When I became involved with MVA I was really surprised that there are so many other groups out there, working on some of the same issues as the labour movement. Affordable childcare and housing, fair wages, income inequality, retirement security, the environment. These are all issues that we all care about and we can all work together on.”

Tracy sums it up: “Together we’re stronger.”

For more information about MVA, visit www.metvanalliance.org or check out their Facebook page. If you’re a PSAC member in the Lower Mainland who would like to get involved, or attend the founding meeting, March 19, contact Jamey Mills.

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