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 RVP.
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
Locals must also determine the scope of what they will address through this program. They need to determine what help (if any) will result in a “dues rebate”, on a case-by-case basis, to avoid undue hardship.
For example, members may need assistance to avoid a financial crisis in cases of unavoidable financial delays due to:
- the Phoenix pay system
- expired sick leave
- administrative leave without pay
Given that all members pay union dues, the executive could treat this assistance as a “dues rebate” rather than outright payments. However, the local members would need to approve creating a hardship fund and the local executive would need to manage it 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