The pandemic changed our workplaces — now unions are evolving too

Gone are the watercoolers and break rooms, in come the group chats and park hangouts

Everything changed almost overnight in March 2020, upending our lives as we knew them. Over a year has passed. And while toilet paper is back in stock, it’s clear that the workplace has changed considerably. It might not go back to the way it was ever again. In fact, it’s clear many workers would prefer that.

Labour unions also need to adjust how we organize and engage with you — union members — and workers who may be looking to join a union for better working conditions. The guiding principle for any good organizer has to be “meet people where they’re at.” While PSAC worked hard to reach members online before the pandemic, it has far and
away become the most effective way to reach members. 

Here are a few of the ways we’ll be adapting to reach you — whether that’s in the workplace or your home office.

Digital engagement

We’ve shifted to sending more emails to members and boosted our social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We are expanding to new platforms to get in touch with you and creating new and more dynamic content. We’re also building our staff dedicated to member engagement so that we can serve you better and get back to you faster. 

We’ll continue to improve our digital communications so that it can be a truly two-way dialogue. We’re creating more ways for you to connect with us so that you can play a bigger role in our union and the decisions we make. It means embracing new tools like texting and messaging to connect with you and improved digital-first video content. And of course, it means we’re going to continue to improve and customize our websites to serve you better.

How can we reach you?

There are some things that you can and should do, though, to help strengthen our collective voice. The easiest is to make sure that PSAC can contact you. Log into the PSAC members’ portal and make sure you have a personal email on file (that’s an email address not managed by your employer). Update your phone number and home address if it changes. This can go a long way to making sure you hear from your union and are staying informed. You can also sign up for the weekly email newsletter directly on the home page.

Communicate safely with colleagues

Just as important: reach out to each other. Even better, do it in a space not controlled by your employer. If you are using Slack or Microsoft Teams at work, be aware of what messages managers can read (spoiler: all of them!) and set up a separate space for you and your coworkers to discuss workplace issues. It can be a different Slack or Teams channel, but WhatsApp, Signal or even a Facebook group can go a long way. 

Face-to-face solidarity

As the world reopens, many of us will be heading back to the office more. For those of us already going into the workplace during the pandemic, we’ll be seeing and working with more people in-person. It’s important that we continue to build strong face-to-face solidarity. Come out to local meetings, area councils and as always reach out to coworkers and discuss issues you’re facing.

No matter where you are working — at home, at an office or the myriad of other workplaces that PSAC members can be found — your union is here for you. 

Contributor: Dave Scrivener


December 1, 2021