We recently received this via email from Sharon Bull (President of PSAC/USGE Local 20070, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, North District and member of the PSAC BC Mainland & Haida Gwaii Young Worker's Committee). We thought it well worth sharing.
When I became our Local’s President for a second term, after having recently graduated UDP 2015, I thought I would be even better prepared to serve our Local’s members. While that is partially true, what I have learned that as President there are still many days where one has to think on one’s feet: for example, when an issue that you have no experience dealing with suddenly comes up.
It might be the pay system suddenly and colossally failing the entire government or it might be a member asking a question about a benefit you've never had to use and have no experience with. As the Local President you go to work: you read, you google, you reach out to your contacts and you ensure that whatever it is you are providing is the best representation possible for your members. Because that's what we do.
Local Executive members and union activists put in countless hours behind the scenes. I have a list of things that I am hoping to accomplish as Local President, but the relatively simple things that I thought I could easily get to are not done yet. Sometimes individual issues have to take precedence over getting a newsletter out to my Local.
Often times the union Executive are interacting with our membership because something has gone wrong. We are often dealing with a difficult management situation ranging from a simple lack of knowledge all the way up to harassment cases. I think it’s fair to say that most union executive have very busy day jobs, but we have to be prepared to leave our regular work sometimes, even though there is usually no one else that can do it. It can be stressful, but that’s what we do.
But despite all the work involved in being a Local President I still love the union, and although I will not always be the President I will remember these days fondly.
Because when one becomes active in the union you get to meet an amazing group of people that are just like you. People who share a strong belief that the union is important and that activism in the union is vital for a strong and healthy working environment.
Being a member of PSAC also makes you part of the provincial and national labor movement. Becoming active in your Local is really just a gateway to many other avenues to get involved, active, and educated – within the Component, the PSAC, and with our friends in organizations like the BC Federation of Labor and the Canadian Labor Congress. At labour events and courses you never know who you might meet or what you might learn – some of the best courses are the ones where you learn the unexpected lessons.
Today was a particularly good day. Ron Hardy, President of PSAC’s NorthEast Area Council and Val Stewart, Chair of the Prince George Regional Women's Committee, and I (that's us in the photo) all went to an organizing meeting for Prince George's first Labor Day event in years – the theme this year is "The Labour Movement - Unions Past, Present and Future Fighting for the Rights of All".
The organizing committee is made up of members of many unions in Prince George and I was really glad to see great participation from PSAC activists! Not only that but it was actually Ron's birthday, which of course was a reason for me to surprise him with a card and cupcakes.
I am so proud to be one of many strong union activists from North Eastern BC and I can't wait to see how all our co-operation and hard work turn into a great event on Labour Day. If you’re in Prince George, make sure to stop by City Hall on September 5th.
Whether it is helping organize a big event, learning about ways to help our members and make our workplace stronger, or celebrating an individual member’s birthday it’s all part of what we do, and why I love the union.
p.s. Don't forget to celebrate the good days!