Members of The Society of United Professionals will be voting in early 2018 on whether to change our name to Society of United Professionals as well as on five other amendments to our constitution that support growing and strengthening our union. This is where you can learn about what’s happening and find answers to frequently asked questions. We’ll be updating this space as new information becomes available, including dates for membership meetings to discuss these changes with you. If you have questions or comments, please contact your local representative.
Brand story video
Where we’ve come from to where we’re going: this video is the most concise distillation of the proposed name and brand of the Society of United Professionals.
Run time: 1:15
Brand Presentation to Council
This video is a slightly condensed version of the presentation of the Society of United Professionals brand to Delegates Council on November 13, 2017.
Key moments in this video:
- President Scott Travers provides insight into why we went to work on a new brand (0:00)
- Brand story video plays (2:04)
- The creative agency consultant who worked with us begins a detailed presentation on the values, personality traits, story, name, logo mark, colours and fonts that comprise the new brand (3:20)
- President Scott Travers provides context into the changing environment that necessitates this new name and brand (16:52)
- A panel discussion on what the new name and brand mean for our union with OPG LVP Joe Fierro, Bruce Power LVP Mike Gade and Legal Aid Ontario Interim Local Committee member Diane Janisse (19:13).
Run time: 24:49
Frequently Asked Questions
The Society of United Professionals went through a six-month process to define our identity and values. From that, we created a narrative to tell the story of who we are, built a visual identity that represents that story and proposed a name that encapsulates it all. In short, we went through a rebranding process.
The proposed new name for our union is Society of United Professionals.
Society Council Delegates voted unanimously to recommend members support this name change in a referendum. All members will have a chance to vote in the referendum during the winter of 2018.
Who are the Society of United Professionals?
We are the union of choice for Ontario’s professional workers.
We stand up for our members in their workplace, at the bargaining table, and in the community. We set our members up for the future by defending their interests today.
Together, we are determined, knowledgeable experts. We are problem solvers.
Over 70 years we’ve learned how to anticipate and adapt to change while sticking to our principles.
We believe in building relationships, but we also believe in building power. Power comes from working together and speaking with a unified voice.
What was the process in getting here?
It has been almost 20 years since Ontario Hydro split up. Through that time, demerging, merging, privatization, contracting out, organizing new workplaces and lots of other decisions mean that we are very different than we were at the turn of the century. We decided it is time to update our identity to reflect those changes and chart a course for the next generation of union members.
The first step was for Executive Board to green-light the project. That led to a competitive process to select a creative agency to take us through this process. The agency, working with a market research firm, developed a survey for members. More than 1,000 members participated, providing their feedback on a wide range of questions that related to the rebranding exercise as well as their broader experience with the union. Through about two dozen stakeholder interviews, the agency spoke one-on-one with people who have a variety of perspectives both internal and external to the union. Additionally, the agency conducted a half-day workshop with Executive Board to gain a deep understanding of the organization’s values and priorities.
With all of those pieces of information collected, the agency began formulating a brand story and values. It was brought back to Executive Board for fine-tuning and to create a framework around naming for the agency to work within. At that point it was agreed ‘energy’ would be removed from the union’s name. Given the brand story, values and priorities of the union, Executive Board decided that the path to growth is embracing our overall expertise representing professionals rather than confining ourselves to one sector and making other types of professionals try to fit in. This was also recognition that The Society of United Professionals already represents workplaces that don’t have a specific connection to energy. With that locked in, the agency moved to the visual identity — trying to match the story and values with a name, logo and colours. Through multiple rounds of review by Executive Committee and Executive Board, a final name, logo and colour scheme were agreed upon and recommended to Society Council.
Society Council received the full recommended brand package and unanimously voted to recommend the new name to all members in a referendum to be held in winter 2018.
Why are we taking energy out of our name?
In the one-on-one interviews conducted with key stakeholders, the consultants doing the interviews asked the same question first: “what is The Society of United Professionals?” And, with one exception, the answer was the same each time, “The Society is a union of professionals.”
That was a telling response because it reflects that The Society is no longer simply a group of engineers working for Ontario Hydro like we were 70 years ago. Many Society members who work for energy companies could just as easily work outside the energy sector because their skills are in things as diverse as project management, marketing, economics, accounting, IT and administration. Moreover, one of our members’ employers is an IT company that just so happens to be contracted to an energy company. Another employer, Legal Aid Ontario, has nothing at all to do with energy.
The other inescapable consideration is our future.
About 1,200 Society-represented jobs are tied to Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. Pickering is slated to close in 2024. Whether it ends up being a little further into the future or not, Pickering will not be open forever and there is no nuclear new-build on tap at Ontario Power Generation or Bruce Power. So the hard truth is we’re looking at a future with 15% fewer members if we do nothing to mitigate the decommissioning of Pickering.
That’s not a viable option if we want to keep providing high-quality service to members and maintain our influence with employers and government.
While some of our future growth plans include employers in energy like local distribution companies, the bulk of the growth we are targeting is beyond energy. So we need an identity that is inclusive of both the people we represent today and the people we will represent 10 years from now. What really ties us together is being professionals.
What will members vote on in the referendum?
A referendum is the highest decision-making body of our union. Every single member is eligible to vote in a referendum. A referendum must be held to amend the union’s constitution. The name of our union is set out in the constitution and as such the constitution must be amended through a referendum for the new name to take effect. All other decisions related to this rebranding, including logo, colours and brand story, can be and have been made by the Delegates Council, the group of more than 80 representatives chosen by their locals’ members.
What impact would this new name have on our collective agreements?
In short, the impact of changing our name will have very little impact on your collective agreement. All that would need to change is the name of our union, which is a minor administrative change that will happen over time as all bargaining units go into their next round of negotiations. Legally, The Society can register a new name with the Ontario Labour Relations Board at any time while maintaining previous names. This ensures all agreements remain legal and in force, and means employers will gain no benefit from trying to stop us from updating our name in agreements and other related documents.
If we change our name, how much will it cost?
According to the union’s legal counsel, the legal work of changing our name is estimated to be “minimal” – much less than $5,000.
The more costly work would be building awareness of our new name and brand. This includes replacing branded materials like shirts, hats, signage, stationary, brochures and other things of that nature. Knowing that this name change is coming, the union has ceased replenishing its supply of branded materials where possible and will likely require about $50,000 to build up a new stock.
The Society is developing a new web site intended to launch in spring/summer 2018. Design work will only be finalized once the outcome of this referendum is known to ensure the site reflects the appropriate name and brand. Additionally, we are planning campaigns on issues of key importance to Society members that would launch following the referendum. The cost of materials for those campaigns would be incurred regardless of the brand but if the new name is adopted would contribute to establishing it with members, allies and stakeholders.
Finally, it will be up to the Executive Board to determine further resourcing of the implementation of the new name based on the Board’s view of how aggressive the union should be in creating brand equity. Any additional resources would likely be used for paid advertising campaigns on social media and other cost-effective platforms.
The ‘tag line’ for Society of United Professionals suggests we’re limited to Ontario. Is that the case?
Our new tag line is the union of choice for Ontario’s professional workers. We considered whether to include Ontario in the name, tag line or at all. Though there are no immediate plans to expand beyond Ontario, we wanted to keep that option open so we didn’t include Ontario in our new name. But right now Ontario speaks to the most specific description of the place we all call home and is therefore part of our identity. If we decide to expand beyond Ontario the tag line will change. Fortunately, there will be very few costs or other barriers to altering that line – it could be done by a simple vote of the Executive Board.
If we change our name, will materials with the old name and logo be forbidden?
No, but we will encourage people to update their collection of union swag because as much as we’re proud of our history we would want to build recognition of this new identity.
Why did you remove the word “The” from our name?
“The” as part of the formal name creates difficulties for written communications. In most names, even those people tend to add “the” in front of, the official name doesn’t include “the.” By doing so, we end up with a capital-t “The” in the middle of sentences, which is jarring for readers and may appear to be a grammatical error. Rather than include “the” in the proper name, we will use it with a lowercase-t in the middle of a sentence as appropriate, only making it a capital-t if “the” is at the start of a sentence.
Where can I learn more about the other five constitutional amendments?
The following documents were developed for Delegates to understand the full breadth of constitution and by-law amendments they were presented with at November 2017′s annual Council meeting. Note that in this referendum members will only vote on the constitutional amendments.
- Cover letter from the Principal Officers
- All amendments shown in tracked changes
- Amendment #1: From Four Principal Officers to Three
- Amendment #2: Membership Definition and Dues Structure
- Amendment #3: Elections Changes
- Amendment #4: Constitution Interpretation Committee Changes
- Amendment #5: Financial Changes