Sunday, May 31, 2015

Running Again; My Candidate Statement for Annual Delegate Conference MGSCS Delegate

Everyone should have a voice in their Association and be part of an Association that they can be proud of, that protects their interests, which will be standing by them when needed.

Yet too many people feel their voices are not heard and do not feel that their jobs are secure.  They worry about their benefits and how any further reductions may impact the quality of life for their families should the Employer cut deeper into them just to save a few dollars.

I believe that together we can build a better Association, a more inclusive Association – where everyone’s voice is heard and where people work together to strengthen their Association and its ability to protect all its members.

I chose to become an activist and member advocate in 2012 when I felt that the Collective Agreement treated segments of our members unfairly.  Since 2012 I have been active in the Association as a MGSCS Delegate then as a member of the Board of Directors in 2014. I currently represent you as a Workplace Representative, as a member of the Workplace Relations Committee, and more recently as a member of the TBS AMERC.  In each and every situation I advocate for the rights of you the members.

I practice ‘interest based negotiation and collaborative solutioning’ – bringing people together making their voices heard and creating solutions that are fair to everyone.  It is in all our best interests to bring people together, Employer and members alike from across the Ministry; people who believe that by working together we create a better workplace for everyone with secure and fairly paid jobs.

If elected as a MGSCS Delegate to the Annual Delegates Conference (ADC), I will also be a member of the MGSCS Chapter Executive where I will work to create a place where your voice is heard and your issues and concerns dwelt with.

As an MGSCS Delegate to the ADC, I will actively participate in discussions and decision making.   I will work with others to create a level playing field ensuring everyone has access to their Association and its support – and keep working with members to ensure that their concerns are fairly represented.

I ask you to vote for me, James Wm. Dawson, as your MGSCS Delegate and as your advocate.

I welcome the opportunity to talk to you and hear your views.  I can be reached at or by telephone at 416-647-9108.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Setting the record straight - What really happened versus the partial picture.

Dave Bulmer recently sent an email out that held an assertion that was not entirely accurate so I would like to set the record straight. He claimed that he had played a “lead role” in crafting a motion that was passed unanimously at the October 2014 Board meeting wherein the Association has committed to working with OPSEU on campaigns aimed at repatriating IT (and other public sector) work to the civil service."

For the record I would like to state that the motion in question came as a result of a vigorous discussion between the President and me at the October board meeting.  I took issue with the President only inviting the Executive members to attend the recent OPSEU MPP Day and not include any representatives from the IT community. As the one of the few Board members, (along with President Gannage and Vice President Pardaens) who has any expertise in or personal familiarity with the fee for service and privatization issues, I should have been included. (See my blog post of March 7, 2014). Since the focus of this OPSEU MPP day was information technology, Smokey Thomas as the host, brought sixteen OPSEU represented information technology professionals. It was his party of course.

The motion that Dave mentions in his email to delegates was the result of a combined effort of several board members including Sally Pardaens, Gary Gannage, Theresa Anderson-Butcher, Dave Bulmer, and myself.  We all had a hand in crafting the final version of the motion.  At the meeting I wrote down the actual completed motion.  The wording of the motion itself can be confirmed with the Secretary of the Association.

The motion states;

AMAPCEO will continue to work with OPSEU and others to study and reduce the potential impact of privatization and/or outsourcing/insourcing (e.g. fee for service) of the work of OPS employees.  Included in these efforts will be a communications strategy to inform stakeholders (e.g. government, employer representatives, OPS employees and the public) of the negative impact of these approaches to the delivery of public services.  This initiative will also focus on outsourcing/insourcing of work such as; IT, Health Care Services, Environmental Services, Mediation/Arbitration Services, etc.

The motion itself was moved by Gary Gannage, seconded by Sally Pardaens, and was passed unanimously by the Board.

The motion as you can read never included the words ‘repatriating IT (and other public sector) work to the civil service.’ I suppose one may conclude that that may be an end result at some point in the future if this motion is successfully executed.

However, going back to the February Board meeting Resolution 21 (Fee for Service Consultants Sunshine List) was brought up for discussion.  At that meeting Mr. Bulmer had the opportunity to support the objective of the resolution but he did not. The President stated empathically at the meeting that AMAPCEO is not capable of gathering that information and has no control over it, so no further action was taken.  I objected and pointed to a number of possible sources, but to no avail. In the meantime OPSEU has gone ahead and begun the process of gathering and publishing information on fee for service and the privatization of services offered by the OPS in an effort to protect its members.

Fast forward to the May 2014 Board meeting, I once again raised the issue of the employer’s use of Fee For Service, causing a motion to be raised by Gary Gannage and seconded by myself affirming that AMAPCEO should continue to draw attention to the issues of the use of Fee for Service consultants, outsourcing and privatization, including supporting the organized OPSEU campaign related to the use of consultants.  At that point in time Mr. Bulmer could have stepped up and taken the lead on this issue but didn’t. He did however,vote in favour of the motion.

But I digress, back to the OPSEU MPP Day. At that event Ms. Pardaens did use that opportunity to speak with Catherine Fife (NDP Finance Critic) and Vic Fedeli (PC Leader Candidate) about the Fee for Service and the Privatization issues.  She suggested that they look at the direction some of the pioneers of privatization like General Motors have taken.  General Motors for example, after much pain realized that outsourcing their IT wasn't working.  They ended up changing their business model and are in the process of hiring up to 10,00 new workers to replace those jobs that had been outsourced.  Both Ms. Fife and Mr. Fedeli were keening interested in what she shared.

More recently in a note to the delegates and members most likely to be impacted by the steady growth in of private consultants Sally Pardaens wrote of the active effort both she and I are taking to bring this issue in front of those in power with the influence to create positive change.  We are currently working on a research/briefing paper that besides looking at business trends will also a review of a number of policy papers written by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the work done by NUPGE.

Some have said I am a one trick pony with a single item agenda.  To them I would say that given a similar situation where members’ rights and welfare and their jobs need to be protected I would prosecute that issue with the same vigor and energy that I have shown for these two issues. 

In closing I will say if anyone can legitimately claim to taking a lead on the issue of increasing use of fee for service consultants and privatization of services affecting AMAPCEO represented members it would be Sally Pardaens and I. 

United we are strong.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Activist Recruitment and Retention– It’ Not A Numbers Game

In a second series Theresa Anderson-Butcher lays out her thoughts on recruiting and retaining Activists.

Thank you again James for allowing me to post on your blog on another subject of mutual interest – activist recruitment and retention.

During my first full term on the Board in 2010-2011 there was a lot of discussion around succession planning and engagement within the activist base. The discussion culminated at the 2011 Board Retreat where I volunteered to put on paper for discussion, my idea of what that would entail. The following is what I proposed to the board.

Activist Succession/Engagement Cycle

I was not on the Board of Directors in 2012 so the responsibility to carry this concept forward was given to another Board member.

As you see from the above diagram, in my opinion, a succession program requires significant planning and coordination as well as the commitment of sufficient resources.  Only then can we hope to ensure that activists are supported, developed and ultimately choose to progress in their roles.  Without such supports, we cannot hope to guarantee the success of our activists or their continued and hopefully progressive involvement in the Association.

Because volunteering in the Association often requires a significant commitment of personal time, I have always been up-front about the responsibilities of the role for which I have encouraged members to self-nominate. Never have I nominated any member for an activist role without first speaking with them, explaining the roles and responsibilities of the position and gaining their commitment to accept the nomination.

Over the last seven years I have tried to mentor at least one person every year in an attempt to draw them into the organization and hopefully engage them to the level where they decide to continue on their own. It is my hope that they too would continue to develop others in the same way I mentored them.  I have been successful in my efforts and I can say with confidence that those I have mentored continue to be active.

Not everyone recruits new activists in the same way.  There has been significant frustration on the part of the activists and the Association because many of our volunteers have come to their roles as a result of being nominated out-of-the-blue, and without their knowledge, by a member of a governance body. For example, I have often heard that delegates and committee members felt flattered when contacted by staff to confirm their nomination and often accepted the nomination without a full understanding of what the role entailed.

In some cases, members elected this way are quite successful in their new role and in others; they found the responsibilities too time-consuming or not what they thought the role would be and had to withdraw.  This put an added burden on the Elections and Credentials Committee and staff to initiate the process to post and fill the vacancy. It also frustrates the existing activist base because they have to continue the responsibilities of the committee without a full complement of volunteers. This places an additional burden on the volunteer time and potentially, the AMAPCEO financial resources if paid leave needs to be increased in order for the committee to meet its performance objectives.

Perhaps if we publicly post on the AMAPCEO website a .pdf of the completed nomination forms as soon as they are received (and determined in order by the Elections and Credentials Committee) the nominee will be more inclined to reflect upon the significance of the responsibilities that they will be assuming should they be successfully elected. Public posting is a way of achieving transparency in the elections process.

AMAPCEO Constitution Article 55.8 Nominations received by the committee [Elections and Credentials Committee] shall not be confidential at any time, and any candidate shall be free to withdraw in favour of another.

By-law 1, Article 15. The nominations shall not be confidential at any time and candidates shall be permitted to withdraw their nominations at any time up to the election.

When members are nominated for volunteer roles without their initial consent, it is equal to a shotgun approach to recruitment.  My approach, described earlier, is more defined and includes on-going support, education and feedback so that the member has a greater chance of success in their role and may then choose to expand their involvement into other roles. This is also the basis of the above diagram as it is part and parcel of a larger development process.

Activist development and member engagement takes work -- a lot of work. This was most recently demonstrated by they current Vice-President, Sally Pardaens, in her role coordinating the mobilization activities for this round of OPS bargaining. Intensive planning and coordination was required to ensure that members were engaged over a significant length of time.

We need to continue to engage members from the mobilization activities to draw them into suitable, continuing roles so that we can sustain interest at a broader level. Sustained interest ensures that members are aware of the regular cycle of AMAPCEO’s activities and are able to participate fully in those activities.  For example, on-going communication would hopefully keep members engaged to the level where they understand the reason why we are calling for nominations and the purpose of the committee or governance role for which we are recruiting. 

Perhaps, this will lead to greater interest and more self-nominations being submitted. To go further, maybe we will receive an increased level of voter turnout – at least at the chapter level.

The above diagram is my vision of how I see activist recruitment and development unfolding in the Association and how we can move towards attracting a greater level of involvement and volunteer commitment from our members.

As I mentioned earlier, the diagram had been shared with the Board in 2011 and given to another Board member for follow through.  I am not saying my idea is the best, put I have faith in its ability to create a culture of sustained engagement.

If you agree with the concept, please re-elect me as Director so I can continue to champion this concept and help us move closer to a member-driven Association. You should also re-elect James Dawson, who fully supports building and creating more opportunities for meaningful member engagement.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I no longer ....

I found this quote by author Jose Micard Teixeira and thought it stands very much on its own as a blog post .... it sums up well where I am at now that I have more days behind me than I have in front of me ...

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist any more with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

- José Micard Teixeira

Obviously if I believe in these statements which I do, I am not a politician.  I am a person who wants the best for people and has a deep desire to get on with it.  Why waste the time I have doing anything else?

All the best

Friday, November 14, 2014

Guest blogger AMAPCEO Director Theresa Anderson Butcher: Engaging the Membership An Argument for Adequate Resourcing of the Chapter Executives Part 2 of 2

This is a continuation of Theresa Anderson-Butchers blog post on Membership Engagement.  You can read part 1 here

Moving Forward – How to Address the Gaps

How many of you saw benefit last year with the resources we allocated to mobilization? Was there better engagement of our members? Did we get value for those expenditures? Did our members provide positive feedback on our efforts and those of staff?

Do you believe, as I do, that maintaining a higher level of funding and providing more leave to Chapter Executives to engage and educate members would reap a positive benefit?

Let’s look at this more practically. I am going to make some assumptions as follows:

1.     AMAPCEO staff is responsible for the preparation of all training and communications materials.
2.     Each chapter has full access to a teleconference line to conduct Chapter Executive meetings.
3.     Leave time for chapter business can be allocated to any members of the Chapter Executive Committee.
4.     Leave time can be requested on a more flexible schedule based on sufficient notice to the employer.
5.     The Chapter Executive puts together an annual plan for outreach and member engagement. The plan can be template and then adapted for individual chapter needs.

Regardless of chapter size, number of members or geography, both time and resources will be required for appropriate outreach. For example, a regional chapter represents a smaller population, but covers a larger geography; a ministry chapter represents a larger population over a smaller geography. Are the costs the same to engage members equally? I would say that they’re close but spent on different items. For example, higher refreshment/meeting room costs for ministry chapters, and higher travel and teleconference/videoconference costs for regional chapters.

If we can allocate leave time to Chapter Executives, the travel time for regional chapters could be significantly reduced allowing Executive members closest to the membership to engage as opposed to having the Chapter Chair travel longer distances. This would be the same for ministry chapters as well.

It takes time and resources to build and engaged membership. We have four years before the next OPS collective agreement is negotiated. This is the largest population of members and we need to use the time between now and then to build engagement and a sense of community within the membership. We need to provide the resources to do so.

If you truly want an engaged membership and if you truly want to be supported by the Association so you can personally more actively engage, then I ask you to vote for those candidates who are committed to giving you the resources we need to make sure every member, if they choose to become more active in the Association, is able to meaningfully engage regardless of their geographic location, family status or accommodation needs.

We cannot allow the continuance of systemic barriers that prevent members from engaging with each other or participating in the leadership of the Association should they choose.

If this is a concept you would like to see explored, built upon and implemented, please vote for candidates like James Dawson, Dianne Colville and Theresa Anderson-Butcher who are committed to making this happen.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Guest blogger AMAPCEO Director Theresa Anderson Butcher: Engaging the Membership An Argument for Adequate Resourcing of the Chapter Executives

Part 1 of 2

Thank you James for allowing me space on your blog to talk about an issue of mutual interest.

Like you, I too am looking forward to this year’s Annual Delegates’ Conference more than ever. This is going to be the year of change and the decisions we make this year will determine our future direction.

Those of you who have attended the last five conferences may recall that I am a champion of change in the way AMAPCEO engages our members and our activists. I believe that we need to provide adequate resources to our Chapter Executives so that they can engage our members more meaningfully at the local level. We cannot use a cookie-cutter approach to member engagement as our chapters may have unique needs in how they reach out to their membership. This uniqueness can be in demographic composition, geographic disbursement, number of ministries represented, BPS inclusion and building location and accessibility.  Regardless of the above, the chapter executive should be the team that sets its engagement plan and receives the support of the leadership and staff to execute the plan.

Engaging the Chapter Executive is troublesome given that the AMAPCEO Constitution only allows leave for Chapter Chairs to perform his/her duties. The leave includes on half-day every three weeks, or approximately 17 half days per year.

The duties of a Chapter Chair are two-fold: governance, as a voting member of Provincial Council; and member engagement with responsibilities to ensure that chapter members are informed of both issues of governance and issues around the application of the collective agreements that pertain to his/her members.

There are six regular Provincial Council meetings per year therefore; the governance responsibilities I would suggest occupy, at a minimum, six of the half-day leaves. Depending on the demands of the work schedule, many Chapter Chairs cannot download/print the materials until the weekend. If they plan to meet with their Executive, it would have to be in the day or two prior to the Council meeting.

Chapter Executive meetings are often held over lunch hour.  In regional chapters or chapters with disbursed Executive membership, the meeting is often by teleconference call. AMAPCEO does not have a dedicated teleconference line for Chapters to use to perform this duty.

So you can see, without even going into the member engagement responsibilities, much of the leave and a significant amount of personal time could be occupied in the governance responsibilities.

Member engagement can mean different things to different people. For some members, a simple informative or welcoming email is sufficient engagement; for others, an opportunity for an in-person discussion is more fruitful.  Both approaches present challenges for Chapter Chairs, as they do not always have access to their member’s home contact data for correspondence or outreach, or are not physically located in the same building, or the same town for that matter.  How then do Chapter Chairs fulfill their obligations for member engagement and education?

The Constitution only allows for the Chapter Chair to have leave for chapter business. In order to ensure broader engagement, we need to make that leave accessible to other Chapter Executives. It takes more than one person to build a community and volunteers need to be given time to fulfill the expectations of their volunteer roles.  Outreach and engagement must be planned and properly executed. It is not an organic process; particularly in this day and age of teleworking and alternate work arrangements where people work varying hours and a lunch hour is no longer an hour in many circumstances.

In the 2015 budget, you will read on lines 29 and 30 that we have allocated $30,000 (0.33%) of our total expenses to cover the costs of all Chapter activities and the expenses for Board members to attend a chapter meeting for twenty-three chapters.

These are all the monies allocated for chapters to get together and build their community. I know that for many years, chapters have not had the time or capacity to get together because there isn’t sufficient leave time for activists to organize the events or meet with members during the day. We cannot expect huge engagement at the local level when we do not expend sufficient resources to allow for such engagement.  

Read the next instalment .....part 2 of 2

My Candidate Statement for AMAPCEO Director.

A few of you have asked if they could tweet about my statement.  I've recreated the statement here  so you can do just that.

 What I Believe

My Candidate Statement for the position of Director

I believe in creating and using policies that support the needs of the Association and its members and regularly reviewing them ensuring continuing relevance. I believe in constructive debate and examining issues from different perspectives in order to arrive at a more comprehensive and well thought out solution. I believe that the voicing of an opinion different from mine is not a personal criticism; merely another way of addressing an issue.  Without critical thinking we cannot hold each decision up to scrutiny, hold individuals accountable for their decisions or have a strong, resilient union. We all have the best interest of the Association and our members at heart. As long as we work together to protect the interests of the whole, we will create and maintain a dynamic and resilient union.

I will continue to champion positive change, transparency, accountability, and openness within AMAPCEO. These remain for me the essential qualities of good leadership; qualities that Delegates like you and the members you represent are demanding.  As your Director I will continue to be your voice as well as your eyes and ears on the Board of Directors – it is a partnership built on strength and trust between you and I.

During mobilisation we saw a stunning demonstration of what member engagement can do. It is my goal to work to create a leadership pipeline with other like-minded Directors to leverage that momentum and provide leadership development opportunities. I will draw on the leadership demonstrated by a large number of Activists who dedicated uncounted hours to ensure that the Employer not only heard but felt our resolve. The strength of our Association and its ability to withstand challenges is dependent on us creating and nurturing leaders from wherever they may be found.  I intend to find ways to give interested members the leadership opportunities within AMAPCEO that will strengthen our resilience and adaptability as an Association.

I promise to leave the Association much stronger then I found it once my second term is done.

During my second term as your Director I will collaborate with other Directors to build member engagement. I will pay particular attention to promoting your education as a Delegate and the members that you represent.  Thomas Jefferson wrote that “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.” I firmly believe that applies equally to the governing of our Association, especially the oversight

During my conversations with members I find examples of how a lack of knowledge leads to uncompensated overtime, managers running rough shod over member rights to fair accommodation, and far too many other examples.  The need to know the Collective Agreement as well as our own Constitution has been virtually pounded into me by Theresa Anderson-Butcher, a dedicated, extremely capable, and knowledgeable veteran Director.  I am convinced that it in you, and the membership at large, lays the real security for our Association - the Association is not safe unless the membership at large is educated, active, and engaged.

For further dialogue on my beliefs and the stands that I have taken on other topics confronting AMAPCEO please contact me at or scan through the rest of my blog.