Before I explain the title of this piece I would like to thank the members who are active in our Union. These are the people who give up their evenings and weekends to become involved and make this union what it is. Some of you might not realize it, but other than the hard working staff we employ to keep the organization running, there are only 2 paid positions―the President and the Vice President. These 2 positions are elected at a triennial convention by representatives who themselves are elected from each Local. Everyone who represents you in the workplace is a rank and-file member who volunteers their time to make sure that you are treated fairly and respectfully. In addition to Shop Stewards these include health and safety committee members who keep your work places safe, bargaining teams who negotiate your collective agreements, and members of Joint Labour-Management Committees who deal with general workplace issues. All of these people are elected by YOU―the members. They work voluntarily and mostly without recognition to make this ‘your’ Union, not ‘the’ Union.
Your Union spends tens-of-thousands of dollars every year in support of the community. Beneficiaries of this support include Young Women in Trades & Technology, the Whitehorse Food Bank, the Salvation Army, the Anti–Poverty Coalition, community events, transition homes and various other non-profit organizations. Few of these community groups and events could continue without support from organizations like ours. All of the time and effort YEU contributes is supplied by members like you, again usually without much recognition.
I know not everyone has the time to become active, or to volunteer on evenings and weekends. Not everyone completely believes in all of the fundamentals of trade unionism, nor does everyone wear the same political stripes. That’s okay—diversity is what makes this a democratic organization. It makes YEU your Union. You don’t have to be a militant, ‘march for the down-trodden’ kind of person. Maybe you can just come out and supervise at a community skate, or flip burgers at a barbecue. There is something everyone can contribute to our Union.
Have you ever been represented by your Union in the workplace, or participated in a Union event? Were you pleased with the outcome of your representation, happy with the event you attended, or not so pleased? Either way we need to hear your comments or your story. That is how we grow and improve.
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email me directly at email@example.com. If you want to be informed about events and what your union is doing for you, send us your home email address, visit our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/ YEUPSAC), or regularly check our website at www.yeu.ca.
Criticism is necessary to bring about improvement, but “constructive” criticism requires ideas for workable alternatives and solutions. If you honestly believe that, “the Union doesn’t care”, or “does nothing”, I invite you to come forward, be heard and help us improve.
In closing if you’re one of the members who says “damn Union”, or even “the Union”, think about what you are saying. Become informed, become active. After all, it really is YOUR UNION! If you hear someone say, “Damn Union” or “the Union”, remind them that YEU is their Union too. Then encourage them to find out what that really means.
Steve Geick, President
Yukon Employees’ Union