Our Evolution: Member-Driven Change – Friday morning update

November 6, 2015

Joey Hartman, President of Vancouver and District Labour Council greets delegates

Friday morning began with a welcome from Joey Hartman, President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council.  The VDLC is part of the CLC a federation of unions that bring together union members together at a community level.

Hartman reminded delegates that the labour council brings members together in solidarity – like the upcoming caravan to the picket line of locked out BCAA members.

Hartman told delegates that this convention and this union are all about its members.  She said that the fact the executive has chosen evolution as a theme for this convention signals that our leadership is forward looking.  Revitalizing and reorganizing is important, as is moving forward on a program that resonates with members and potential members.

Hartman said that this is a moment for us in terms of political engagement. She said it’s our job to keep Prime MinisterTrudeau moving ahead on commitments and to push him on things his government is weak on.  As the labour movement, we need to start talking more and more to MPs to have our voice heard.

She said that our union, for its size, is way beyond our weight – we are positive, strong and politically active.  She said that everywhere she goes, our union is represented. She said our leadership is thoughtful, influential and always brings something to the table.


Credentials Committee update

The committees said that yesterday we had 154 total delegates. Today we have 168 delegates.


Communications report

Communications Director Sage Aaron outlined how the communications department focuses on external and internal communications – we talk to you and also to the media.

She introduced our researcher Iain Reeve, who has overhauled our member polling in the last year to learn more about our members- what you think about what we’re doing, what your workplace is doing  and what your values are.

He discussed two polls from last year.  One polled 658 members and the other 721 members. He looked at:

Who are our members? 37% are male and 63% are female.  The majority live in the  Lower Mainland, most in suburbs. 84% of our members over age 35. He noted that only 18% of our members are under 35 years old and only 2% are under 25, possibly due to the nature of our workplaces.

What do our members believe? He noted that 70% of members believe COPE acts in their interests. 40% believe their employer acts in their interests. Our employees are both proud of their union and their employers.

How we are doing? He noted a 24 point drop in satisfaction with COPE since 2013. 38% say we negotiate good contracts and 65% have contacted union with a problem – 51% of these issues were dealt with by stewards. He said a strong majority of people are satisfied with their union contact.

He noted that this information helps us hear our members, what they need and how the union can communicate and work better with everyone.


Guest Speaker: Hahrie Han, Anton Vonk Associate Professor of Political Science at UC Santa Barbara

We were honored to have Hahrie Han giver her presentation “Building People Power in the 21st Century” to convention today.

Han grew up as an daughter of Korean immigrants in Texas. Her parents tried to figure out what it was to raise thier kids in the United States.  She learned that transformation is not only possible – it’s a way of life.

Han studies social movements like labour organizations that try to engage people in transformation.  She said that when you’re part of a movement, you’re not trying to sell something.  You’re trying to make change in thinking and in power.

She posed the question: If movements are about building power – what is power?  How do movements create transformative purposes? People have a desire to make change –  but they need to build and shift power to make the change.

Han said there are three faces of power – visible, hidden, and invisible/ structural power.  To build a movement you need to build and shift all three faces of power.

She said we live in an amazing moment.  Digital tools are giving us more power to engage more.  Groups on front lines are able to reach out and engage people –  but they’re still finding they can’t move things. She gave the example of Occupy Wall Street –  it managed to bring the inequality conversation to the forefront but no change was really achieved.  Why? How do organized people become organized power?

She studied organizations with high engagement versus those with low engagement and did field experiments.   She found that there were two types of groups: those who employed transactional mobilizing and those who employed transformational organizing.

The first group was able to better mobilize large groups of people, who were then able to self-select where they fit in the organization – and how much participation or power the adopted. The second group cultivated agency. Wherever someone comes in on the ladder, you push them up,  give them power and form relationships.  Organizations that were most successful did both.

Mobilizers made things easier.  But organizers forced people to come into a relationship that was interdependent and became the core of the work they were doing.

She outlined a challenge: to win, participation has to be possible (supply), probable (demand) and powerful (aggregation).

She said how you engage people, with the dignity they have, is key. Our power comes not from the money we raise or the messages we craft, but from the heartbeat at the centre of our work.


Guest Speaker: Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour

Irene Lanzinger brought greetings on behalf of the leadership and members of the BC Federation of Labour.

She said the world will be changed by people willing to go to a meeting at night (or on weekends). And that’s us.

Lanzinger spoke about the politics that are in everything she does.  She said that in the federal election, there is some bad news, some good news and some significant work for the future. The good news is that Canada rejected Stephen Harper and Conservatives.  She said the strength and vision of the previous NDP caucus helped push the Liberals to a more progressive platform.

She said we must hold the new government to account to repeal anti-union legislation, hold a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and to repeal Bill C51. She said we must push them to create training and apprenticeship opportunities and fund transportation and infrastructure.

She noted that working people and unions were engaged more than she’d ever seen in the political process. She said electoral politics are important. Governments have power and influence and we need to engage them in a lot of different ways.  The thing we cannot afford is to not be engaged in the political process.

She looked forward to the provincial election and asked delegates to think of the progress we can make if we elect a government that will reflect our values.

She said the provincial government’s deletion of emails scandal disturbs her.  The government belongs to us.  We are the people, they are our government and they must be open and accountable. And the Liberals don’t get that.

Moving into the next election, she said we need to keep out members at the forefront of the discussion. 

By the end of this year, we will be 12th in the country in terms of minimum wage. The current minimum wage puts people $6000 below the poverty line. We need a comprehensive poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines.  BC is the only province in the country without one.

She noted the importance of unions in making the world a more equal place.  We raise the bar; we raise wages and benefits for everyone.

Lanzinger said that COPE378 has a special place in her heart.  She gave a shout out to the COPE sisters who work for the Fed.

Lanzinger closed by saying that our union plays a big role in the province.  We are important in politics, in organizing, and our ongoing commitment to social justice.  She looks forward to continuing the struggle with us for a more just and equal world.


Our Rebranding: MoveUP – The Movement of United Professionals

Communications Director Sage Aaron unveiled our union’s rebranding strategy to delegates. We decided to look at re-branding last year after we were faced with a dilemma – we were getting beat out in the field.  Not because of the hard work of our members and staff, but because of something cosmetic – our name.

To look at moving forward we talked to members, council, the executive to see if we could come up with an identity that would reflect who we are, what we believe in and would invite people in.  We found our values strongly aligned and one thing was very clear – the sense of professionalism our members felt.  We held focus groups, did a lot of work and used a fresh creative approach.

We are a movement.  Of united professionals.  Our new identity MoveUP reflects who we are, where we want to go and invites people in.

Our new identity was met with resounding applause and enthusiasm from members who expressed their encouragement for the name.  Join us and let’s MoveUP together.