Our Area Councils and Regional Committees (Women’s, Human Rights and Young Workers) were faced with quite the challenge these past few months. How do you operate in the midst of a pandemic? Well, they certainly adapted and continued their important work! The Committee Success Stories is designed to highlight the successful work accomplished by our various committees in the Atlantic Region.
The tweet that changed everything
This story begins with a tweet sent by the Mayor of Charlottetown, Philip Brown.
After publishing that message on his social media networks on the morning of June 15th, Dan Aiken, the Chairperson of the PEI Area Council knew he had to do something because the message that the Mayor had published was inaccurate and damaging to the image of public sector workers who were still going above and beyond, even during the pandemic. In addition to that, it couldn’t have been worst timing since it was the beginning of National Public Service Week.
We made initial contact with the communications staff of the Mayor’s office to raise our concerns. We were told that this was a mistake, that the Mayor was indeed aware that PSAC members were still working and that he would retract the message. We agreed to hold back until 1:30 pm in order to give the Mayor the time to change his message. By 3 o’clock, no changes posted on social media. Dan then called the Mayor directly and left him a voicemail instructing him that we would reply on social media if he didn’t rectify the situation by 4:30. Still nothing. We went ahead and replied to the Mayor’s erroneous post on social media in order to ensure that our members were represented and that the facts of the situation were presented.
In the early evening, the Mayor called Dan to discuss the situation. Dan explained that PSAC members had been working during this pandemic and as usual, Canadians could always rely on public servants and a pandemic wouldn’t waver that commitment. Dan went on to explain that the words the Mayor had chosen were not accurate of the situation and he needed to fix that as soon as possible. The Mayor did change his message online to reflect the fact that PSAC had been working all along.
A few days later, the Mayor reached out to Dan and asked to obtain a lawn sign to display at City Hall and at his personal residence.
(From left to right: Dan Aiken, Debi Buell and Mayor Philip Brown)
Dan sums up the situation: "This was a clear case where PSAC political activism worked to the benefit of our members. The Mayor has a big platform by which to shape public opinion and by spreading the message that federal public sector employees were not working he was negatively affecting our members. As a team, we acted quickly and decisively, and the end result is that an elected leader who was pushing a policy which would harm our membership is almost certain to pick up the phone and call us the next time he wants to say something about government workers."