One of the Local Officer’s most important jobs is to ensure that the integrity of the union is safe-guarded. This means each worker in the bargaining unit:
- is afforded the right to receive representation before the employer;
- is provided with the opportunity to sign a union card, and once they have signed, has an opportunity for input in the affairs of their Union, at all levels;
- has an opportunity for input into the collective bargaining process and all other union vehicles which affect the interests of members;
- has the opportunity for voice, vote and to stand for office within the Local, once s/he has joined the union;
- receives information about the affairs of their Union.
Local Officers also have to ensure that all policies of the Component and the PSAC are followed and that these are explained and understood by the membership.
Local Officers work with a wide assortment of people. At the worksite, they are in contact with members, supervisors, and management. In the Local they work with the other Local Officers, Stewards, PSAC and Component Officers and union staff. In their communities, they work with other unions, coalition partners, and community groups. Knowing how to communicate and how to listen effectively are indispensable abilities when dealing with people. Knowledge about the collective agreement, management and union policies, labour laws, as well as being diplomatic and tactful can only help in all your dealings with members.
Local By- laws outline the structure required for the Local to operate, including the number and type of Local Officers required. Usually the number of officers is determined by the number of members in the Local and the geographic breakdown. PSAC members are found in a wide range of occupational settings and work locations and, while every Local organization will be similar in structure, they will vary in size and composition. Normally the Executive consists of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. Local Executives may also have a Health and Safety Officer, an Equity/Women’s and/or Anti-Harassment Officer and an Education Officer. The Chief Steward is usually a member of the Local Executive and chairs the Stewards’ Committee.
One important PSAC policy which requires a specific role for Local Officers is the PSAC Anti- Harassment: The Workplace and PSAC Anti-Harassment: The Union policies. We all benefit from harassment free workplaces. While the employer is ultimately responsible for this, unions can play a significant role in supporting the creation of harassment free workplaces. These responsibilities can range from initiating informal resolution if you become aware of a harassment incident; appointing an investigation committee and ensuring procedural fairness if a complaint is filed. Details on the roles and responsibilities for Local Officers can be found in PSAC Policy 23A and 23B.