Local 524 and our place in OPSEU
Who are we?
Local 524 is a Composite local made up the Public Service Employees working for the Ministry of Attorney General and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Most of our members work out of 720 Bay Street, 21 College Street and 18 King Street. We also have members working out of other offices in the Toronto Area.
OPSEU where you work – your local
The purpose of establishing locals of the union is to encourage participation of all members in their union.
– The OPSEU Constitution
Your OPSEU local is your primary link to the union. It represents you where you work, and you elect its leaders – your stewards, your local president and other officers, your delegates to convention, and so on. It’s your first step to getting involved.
Locals have the autonomy and resources to do what they think is important for their members. You have a vote on those decisions.
What can locals do?
- participate in negotiating collective agreements
- process grievances to enforce the collective agreement
- establish joint labour-management committees to resolve local or unit issues
- control their own money
- collaborate with other unions and community groups affiliate with local labour councils
- organize social or community activities publish newsletters or create websites elect delegates to the OPSEU convention
- send members for union education and training monitor workplace health and safety
- adopt bylaws
- help craft union policy
- promote human rights and equity
OPSEU has three kinds of locals:
- single-unit locals, where all members work for the same employer at the same location
- multi-unit locals, where all members work for the same employer but at different locations
- composite locals, where members work for more than one employer at one or more locations
How do locals work?
For starters, democratically.
Local elections normally take place at membership meetings, but in special cases, there may be polling stations.
The frontline voice of the union in the workplace is the shop steward. Your local (or your unit in a multi-unit or composite local) decides how many shop stewards it needs and how they should be distributed. You elect the steward for your work area. It takes a clear majority to win.
From among your shop stewards, you elect your local executive committee (LEC). So every member of the LEC has already been elected as a steward.
Your LEC must have a president and at least two other officers (vice-president, secretary, treasurer, secretary- treasurer, chief steward, etc.). In single-unit locals, all shop stewards are automatically on the LEC.
Each unit in a multi-unit or composite local elects one or more unit stewards from among their shop stewards to sit on the LEC, and the officers are elected from these unit stewards.
Locals can define their structure in local bylaws, which must conform to the union’s constitution. Article 29 of the constitution governs locals that do not have their own bylaws.
How are locals funded?
- Local funds come from your union dues. A portion of your dues comes back to your local.
- OPSEU locals get quarterly rebates from the union, depending on how many members have signed union cards. Each local gets a cheque in January, April, July, and October. Composite locals get a supplement to reflect their more complex structure.
- Rebate levels are revised annually.
- A typical OPSEU local with 250 members would receive nearly $15,000 annually in operating funds.
What do locals spend their money on?
In OPSEU, most member expenses are covered by the central union. This includes travel, accommodation, meals and lost wages for members attending convention, education courses, bargaining sessions, grievance hearings, and the many other meetings and events that the union organizes or participates in.
That leaves local funds for things like sending extra members as observers to convention, child care or refreshments at meetings, publishing newsletters, or other things the local decides. Locals can also make contributions to their community, such as by supporting
the local food bank or a kids’ soccer team. Some locals set up their own strike fund to augment strike pay from the central union. Others send fruit baskets to members in hospital. It’s up to the local to decide.