VOTE FOR 

      I am James McKay. When I was first acclaimed President of 596  slightly less than 4 years ago, our Local was facing some major challenges. We were weeks away from losing a rebate cheque from head office that was worth almost 6 figures: over 350+ members (and the $20,000 per year we could receive from OPSEU HQ for  them) were ‘missed’: in my opinion, the Union simply served some 30 people who filed grievances while ignoring the other 970 of us who payed dues (I pay over $1,300 per year) and received nothing other than a summer BBQ and a Festive luncheon in return.

     You may recall the first General Membership Meeting in January 2012 at which I spoke about  moving our Local’s attitude 180 degrees; what I clumsily called the ‘New Approach’. That new  strategy was one where the majority of the membership would have their voices heard and where transparency and accountability above all would be my goal. I was gratified to receive an avalanche of supporting emails and almost every one of them was from a previously disappointed member whose faith in our Union was as low as possible, but who now was saying that they might just be interested in supporting this ‘new’ Union. I asked back then for your trust and stated the ideals your Union would bring forth; we’d engaged in calm, intelligent and rational discussion rather than angry, worthless rhetoric. We’d put the membership’s needs first and would listen to and be guided by your direction. Four years later, we’ve accomplished so much and that couldn’t have happened without your ongoing support and commitment to our new path.

     We’ve worked with HR and management to ensure that hiring panels are honest and fair. There has been a huge positive spike in our membership’s ability to apply for and win new employment opportunities. Last year over 50 Food Service term positions were converted to PYE status, meaning those employees would have access to pensions and full benefits. Last summer we bargained a contract that is the envy of every other OPSEU Local. We pressed for and won Microsoft Office training programs and then secured a huge increase in funding from the University for that training.  In the last 4 years, we’ve seen an increase in OPSEU 596 positions, while other Universities saw decreases. And much more.

     The single most important thing I can say that I’ve accomplished can be summed up in one word: RESPECT. OPSEU 596 is now respected. The Executive of this University respects us. Managers respect us. Students respect us. Most importantly, we respect each other. Where once OPSEU 596 was seen as a huge barrier to progress, we’re now seen as a pool of enthusiasm, brilliant skills, and are considered an engine to be harnessed for ‘good’. We are the front-line face of our University and the first contact our bright student stars have with Ryerson. We’re every student’s stand-in mom/dad/uncle/aunt/sis/brother and we are finally recognised by this University as the most valuable resource possible.

 You now have a critical decision to make and I believe it is this: do you want to continue along a path where we deeply care for each other and try to uplift ourselves, our students and this University, or do we want to abandon this wonderful dream? It’s a choice that we will all have to live with and I truly hope that you will look upward and will send a clear message on Election Day that you are behind me. The decision you are being asked to make will impact your careers, your paycheques, your job security and your ability to touch the lives of our students. I know you will choose wisely.