Building back better together: A union school for activists working in solidarity

Over 140 PSAC members gathered in Charlottetown, P.E.I. to participate in the PSAC Atlantic Union School Building Back Better Together: A union school for activists working in solidarity from April 6 to 10, 2022. The school was a welcome return to normalcy for many members, they had the opportunity to attend classes, meet other PSAC members and share their experiences as union activists.

Guest speakers and facilitators encouraged members to become more involved in regional committees and to understand the importance of activism within the union. Participants attended events outside of their scheduled classes, such as a Truth and Reconciliation panel and an evening of dinner and dancing.

Members in the political and social activism class had the opportunity to organize a rally outside of Member of Parliament Sean Casey’s office. All the school’s participants attended the rally over their lunch break. This rally kick-started PSAC’s National Day of Mobilization events happening across the country.

Chris Aylward, PSAC’s National Executive President, spoke to the members at the rally. He talked about current treasury board bargaining, and how important mobilization will be across the country. “It was federal public sector workers that got Canada through the pandemic these last two years. [The federal government] is not going to put the cost of the pandemic on our members backs,” he said to the crowd.

The school gave the participants the opportunity to advance their training with a variety of course options; political and social activism, building solidarity with indigenous communities, politics for everyone, our communities, our unions, our rights, human rights and duty to accommodate, and advanced representation training for stewards.

Chris Aylward, Sharon DeSousa, PSAC’s National Executive Vice-President, and Colleen Coffey, PSAC Atlantic Regional Executive Vice-President, wrapped up the conference with encouraging words to both new and seasoned activists.

Overall, the school accomplished its goal of engaging PSAC members across the region. Participants were pleased by the work of the facilitators and the opportunity to learn and engage.

“So glad I got this opportunity – it brought back the feeling of activism I had been working towards before the pandemic hit,” said one participant after the conference. Another member is excited to take their knowledge back to their local, “I would recommend this training to all members as we play a key role in the public sector and have to fight for our rights.” 

The school ignited mobilization in the region, and these members left Charlottetown keen to set in motion different union events in their communities.