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New strategic plan sets Society priorities

Delegates at November’s annual Society Council meeting approved a new strategic plan that will drive the union’s work on five priorities for the years 2016-2019.

The five areas of focus are Member Driven, Union of Choice, Social Advocates, Influence Public Policy, and Building on Our Strengths. They were determined through broad consultation with the Society delegates, locals, leadership and staff, as well as an environmental scan.

Executive Vice President Policy Michelle Johnston led the development of the strategic plan. She says that a major survey of members in 2014 also influenced the new plan.

“1,700 members participated in a survey to review our union’s effectiveness of the work we have carried out in recent years and on the approach members want their leadership to take in the years to come.”

Conducted by Vector Research to gauge levels of engagement in the union, the survey suggested important opportunities lie ahead.

According to Vector Research, Society members are more engaged than the average Canadian union member. But beneath the surface is a troubling trend that Society leadership is determined to address.

“What they found is more than half of the oldest cohort of members feel engaged in the union,” said Society president Scott Travers. “But what troubles me most is barely one-third of our youngest members feel engaged.”

“Young members aren’t just the future of our union but also the present and we need to treat them like it. With decades left in their career, the decisions taken today will shape young members’ lives the most.”

Those findings influenced the Member Driven and Union of Choice priorities in the new strategic plan, which included an engagement program for new members.

The Vector Research survey also found that members overwhelmingly support the greater level of political engagement The Society has undertaken in recent years. Asked if they believe it is appropriate for The Society to be politically active on issues affecting members’ jobs and working conditions, 90% of respondents agreed that it is appropriate during periods of time between elections, and 88% agreed that it is appropriate during elections.

These findings, along with an environmental scan, informed the union’s choice to designate Influence Public Policy as a strategic plan priority.
The survey also provided important information on which types of engagement — for example, person-to-person, meetings, telephone town halls, e-mail, and social media — members feel is most effective.

“I want to thank the 1,700 members who took the time to participate in this survey because it has and will continue to shape how the leadership goes about its work to make this the best union possible for the members,” said Johnston.

For more information on the strategic plan, please contact EVP Policy Michelle Johnston.