The Member Support Program is an “offshoot” of the PSAC Union Counselling Program.
Through the program, the union comes alongside members who need support. The program aims to understand the likely cause of the member’s absenteeism, performance issues, and other points of conflicts in the workplace. At the same time, the program recognizes the possibility of micromanagement, harassment, and management-caused toxicity. Understanding the cause of conflict is vital.
Through understanding the member’s situation, the program can lessen their anxiety around conflict and help the member find the best resolution to the situation that is causing them grief.
The information below will help you determine if your local would be a good fit to host its own Member Support Program.
Evaluate your local
Each local must evaluate their assets and liabilities to determine whether or not their membership supports this sort of care, outside the grievance or complaint processes, and to what extent. Some locals will opt out for many reasons, while others may choose to opt in but will need Component support, including their regional vice president.
Many of the issues this program addresses require time outside regular working hours.
Each local must understand this and decide what compensation to provide for this investment. Locals must also determine the scope of what they will address through this program. Will their program include some form of material support or will it be strictly referrals and emotional support?
With clear oversight, locals could also vary support based on needs, on a case-by-case basis.
The Member Support Program requires certain basic skills to be effective.
Active listening is key. Don’t compare the member’s situation with your own personal experiences and do not give advice. Understand that the answer lies within the member talking through their situation and they must reach a decision they are comfortable with.
Each member and situation is unique. You cannot impose what worked for one member on another’s situation.
Support providers also need basic:
- understanding of addiction
- training to recognize the symptoms of conflict-created anxiety and mental illness that may need medical attention and leave
- negotiation skills to work with labour relations/management to find a workable solution
- knowledge of the limitations of negotiation and when to seek legal recourse