Brothers, sisters and comrades, life as we know it has changed and that change might be for the long haul. We must adapt to that change.
At Toronto North, we have long been ahead and were prepared to deal with such changes. Since the beginning of my presidency, I mandated my executive team to look at different ways of providing better service to the local. I took the lead on that, personally handling all the communications portfolio for the local. This included the creation of a functional website with live chat, appointment bookings, Whatsapp, and text message consultation.
We also implemented our telephone system. This worked well when we left the office back in March. When members call the union’s phone number, our virtual assistant would route the call to the personal phone numbers to union rep's personal cellphone. This ensures the reps' privacy and allows for one phone number to reach all representatives. Even when reps change, the phone number remains the same!
We also ensured that members had constant communication throughout the pandemic. When members were worried and their mental health was being affected – we launched the CERB FEST event, where we brought elected officials, MPs, MPPs, union leaders and even the Minister of National Revenue to Toronto North to say “Thank you” to the members. We also held several other town halls, and we invited members from other locals too.
When the anti-racism showed up at our doorstep, we took decisive action, calling out the employer – hosting our anti-racism event with hundreds in attendance from across the country, with an anti-racism educator, a lawyer, and a therapist. We opened our doors to everyone because unionism isn’t about taking care of our members alone, it's about looking out for others too.
When our bargaining team secured a historic bargaining contract – we brought the country together again. With questions pouring in from members, and celebratory messages being shared we decided that we needed to have an event to answer questions and celebrate too! We put together a town hall within a few hours of the contract announcement!, we brought in PSAC's national VP, UTE president, and the bargaining VP to share with members of the details of this historic victory and over 5,700 viewed our event.
With everyone working from home for the foreseeable future locals must find ways to continue engaging the membership. Here's what our local is doing:
1. Our new hires orientation is now online, with electronic membership cards 2. Members and representatives have the option to choose a video appointment or telephone appointment with reps, using Microsoft Teams secure platform. 3. We will host monthly town hall check-ins to discuss current issues and have an opportunity to meet and greet members. 4. Medium-term we are working on a virtual membership appreciation event. I miss those days at Dragon Pearl restaurant. 5. We are also working on having our annual general meeting virtually. This is more complicated as it requires approval from UTE national and PSAC.
We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. No matter what happens or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. Dr. Maya Angelou
UTE Toronto North