Giving Voice
/ Author: John-David Alkema
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Giving Voice

One of the greatest privileges we have as a union is giving a voice to those who have no voice.

One of the greatest privileges we have as a union is giving a voice to those who have no voice. I was reminded of this fact this past winter when one of my colleagues lost her voice for a number of days. Once her voice returned, we talked about how frustrating it is when you are trying to communicate, yet you are unable to make yourself heard.

There are many in society who experience this frustration and do not have someone to advocate on their behalf. We can and do act as a voice for our members. In some cases our members are seeking to be heard as a group of individuals who are trying to express an opinion. We can get their point of view across to employers, governments, or the public. Or maybe there is an individual who needs their voice amplified because they are being discriminated against or being taken advantage of. We can amplify that voice, give it credence, and support the individual all the way to a resolution. Sometimes a person just needs to be heard. Other times, action must follow.

I have represented workers in most sectors that CLAC is involved in over my twenty year career. I have seen over and over again the value we bring by giving a voice to the questions or concerns of our members.

As a union, we also have the opportunity to respond to questions from employers on behalf of our members. All of these tasks have value and are appreciated by both sides of the bargaining table, at least in most cases.

In terms of the employer asking for a response on behalf of the members, I’ve found it is most often beneficial with volunteer firefighters. In many cases we represent hundreds of members spread out over large municipalities. Through our steward committees/station representatives we are able to give a voice to the opinion of a large membership on various issues and policy changes. This is true in large healthcare and construction units as well.

This work is a great privilege and is very meaningful. It is an honour to represent our members and work to ensure that their voices are heard.


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