Here is what I want you to know.
Where am I from?
Before I begin, I would like acknowledge that I am from the Lekwungen/Songhees, and W̱SÁNEĆ traditional and unceded territories known by the Colonial name Victoria.
Who am I?
My name is Charlotte Millington and am I running for the position of President of the Hospital Employees’ Union. I am asking for your support and vote in our 2022 election.
When I was first elected as the South Island RVP in 2018, I had a single plan: I wanted to raise the profile of the members of our union. Not long before my election, I overheard a member describe our union as “the union who isn’t the healthcare workers you usually think about when you think of healthcare.” Besides being a bit confusing, it broke my heart. Were we really that? Were we really a union who was best defined by the things we weren’t?
So I set a goal: I was going to unite the members of the South Island. If I could unite the members, we would raise our own profile together.
This was no small goal. We had a fractured region with more collective agreements than we could count. I thought I’d start with the two things I know best: showing up at every meeting I was invited to attend, yes, on my own dime, and I would create a Facebook group to give members a place to amplify my messages.
Accountability. Transparency. Community. Since 2018.
I knew that the best way to unite the members was to be the most accessible member of the Provincial Executive our region had ever seen. I even consistently posted my personal cell phone in the group so members could reach me any time.
I mean, what could possibly go wrong with this spectacularly airtight plan in the completely uncharted territory of social media and HEU?
In case you’re wondering how that worked, grab your convention app and count the sheer volume of provincial executive candidates from Vancouver Island. In fact, the closer to Victoria you get, the more representation you get. And the epicentre is my own local, Royal Jubilee Hospital. We aren’t just going to win the award for “most local delegates running for the provincial executive.” Have a look at how we interact. We are also phenomenally collaborative. My region, my city, my local, is practically a travelling cheer team for each other.
It seems that solidarity is contagious.
It became very clear recently that connection to leadership and connection to each other is critically missing. As my Facebook group, HEUBC, became home to 2500 members, it also became clear that our union is in trouble.
I’m going to say that again. Our union is in big trouble.
The crisis began before today.
Our members no longer feel connected to HEU or to each other. Our members are mad. I cannot pretend everything is ok when I see members talking about leaving healthcare… or worse: staying in healthcare but first decertifying from HEU.
I don’t know how we hit a crisis level without anyone noticing, but we did. We need to do something and we’d better do it quickly. A union divided is a recipe for unthinkable things.
We need a solution.
If you’re wondering if I can fix it, well, all I can say is that the island is doing pretty well. My own local is a hotbed of labour activism. I don’t know if I can fix everything, but I do know that if we keep doing what we’re doing, if we keep having the same lack of member engagement, of accountability, of transparency, and of a commitment to building a union community, we are going to look the same, or worse, than we do right now by the next convention.
Imagine a future with leadership who believes in grassroots activism. Imagine leadership who takes the risk of listening to member feedback – even the criticism – and who continues to show up for the members. Sometimes it’s downright scary to hear the words members use to express their truth. But I keep showing up. I keep listening.
How could I do anything else?
Again and again, I have shown myself to be inspired by you, our members. The future I see for our members could be strong. We have the numbers to be powerful.
When you vote, you are voting for the future you choose. The union is in your hands.
We need a change now.
Again, my name is Charlotte, like the colour scarlet, and I hope you will vote for me as your next president.
Can you feel the future?
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