Organizing Model continuing to expand

The Report: February / March 2000 vol.21 num.1


Today HSA stewards are facing ever-increasing difficulties in fulfilling theirsteward roles in the face of workload pressures on the job exacerbated by staffingcutbacks and lack of relief.

With many employers embarking on restructuring efforts, stewards havean increased role on Labour Adjustment and other committees.

Safety Stewards are learning and applying new regulations and taking onincreasingly complex issues of occupational health and safety in the workplace.

Stewards struggle to represent members and stay in communication withother stewards, members and their LROs. Many are concerned about personal burnout anddecide that they can no longer continue.

HSA embarked on the Organizing Model in the mid-nineties to helpchapters in large facilities organize themselves to meet their needs more effectively andshare the steward workload.

The goals of the Organizing Model include improving grassrootsparticipation, taking charge of local issues and creating communication strategies toreach more members.

Members are encouraged to see themselves as the union and not apartfrom it.

To date, nine large facilities have implemented the Organizing Model.The implementation begins with workshops to outline the model and explore local issues.Stewards and departmental representatives are recruited and communication modelsdeveloped.

A schedule of regular steward and membership meetings is planned. Localinitiatives are implemented if necessary. Each facility implements the model in a uniqueway, so that it is responsive to their needs.

In the year 2000, HSA will continue to add to the Organizing Modelfacilities. Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster has already begun to organize andcontinued work will be done. In addition, HSA will break new ground in extending theorganizing model to Providence Health Care (PHC)/ PHC has been formed from theamalgamation of Catholic Health facilities in Vancouver. Spanning eight sites around thecity and providing a range of services from tertiary to extended care, it is a complexorganization employing 1000 HSA members. This will be HSAs first experience inimplementing the organizing model across sites.

Providence Health Care members are facing many issues which need theirinput and active participation. PHC is well into the process of implementing programmanagement, is actively planning to reconfigure and move services among the sites, and isconsidering the move to single certification (currently there are separate certificationsfor St. Pauls Hospital, Mt. Saint Josephs Hospital, St. Vincents(Heather and Youville), St. Vincents (Arbutus and Langara), Brock Fahrni, and HolyFamily Hospital. The broader the representation and input from HSA members, the better HSAis able to meet their needs.

I would encourage HSA members from chapters of all sizes and in allsectors to examine the elements of the Organizing Model ... participation,communication and local action ... and become more active at the chapter level. Seewhat you might do to take up a small part of the work that needs to be done ... fromputting up posters, talking to members, helping a steward, to being a steward ... thereis an active role for everyone ... for WE are the union.

Rae Johnson represents Region 6 on HSAs Board of Directors.