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Building union democracy in the virtual world

AUPE’s annual general meetings and elections are all on Zoom this year — be prepared to go virtual!

Mar 12, 2021

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By Alexander Delorme,

Communications Staff

If you thought the pandemic had already changed how we all use technology to keep in touch with each other, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! 

AUPE’s annual general meetings (AGMs) and elections are kicking off on March 15. All meetings — from Chapter to Local to Area Council AGMs — will be held online, over Zoom, to keep us all safe while embracing our democratic union duty. 

“COVID-19 really made a mess of our normal lives, but we’re moving forward and doing everything possible to make it work,” says AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jason Heistad. 

“A lot of effort has gone into making this year’s AGMs and elections a success. We would all rather meet with each other in person, but this is the option that lets us hold our meetings while doing our part to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
Headshot of AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasuer Jason Heistad

Jason Heistad, AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasurer

How will online AGMs work?

Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jason Heistad speaks to a a full house of union members at AUPE's Labour School.
Executive Secretary-Treasurer Heistad speaks to a full house of union members at AUPE's pre-pandemic 2020 Labour School.

Just as in normal years, the focus for the first few months of AGMs will be holding all 354 Chapter meetings, then the much larger Local meetings, and then wrapping up with Area Council Meetings. Chairs are booking meetings with the help of AUPE’s Vice-Presidents to ensure headquarters can support each group. 

“It really is a united, team effort,” says Heistad. “When we made the decision to do meetings online, it was based on the fact we all take our democratic responsibilities seriously. That’s how we keep our union strong and member-driven, and we didn’t want the pandemic to get in the way of that.” 

What’s different this year — other than holding the meetings online of course! — is that every member will receive a mailout with meeting details once their meeting has been scheduled. Members will also receive an email with this information if headquarters has a valid email address for them. 

To participate in AGMs, each member needs to use their member ID to create a personal MyAUPE account on the union website, This is to make sure our meetings are led by the members and so that non-members can’t vote.  

“We have created a structured, uniform process so everyone gets the same high-quality virtual meeting experience. We wanted the meetings to be as accessible as possible, and we think we’ve struck the right balance while acknowledging the limitations of going online.”
Headshot of AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasuer Jason Heistad

Jason Heistad, AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasurer

So how do I join my AGMs?

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As far as navigating technology and the internet goes, joining your AGMs is about as simple as it gets. It’s just a matter of signing into you MyAUPE account at the time of the meeting, clicking the blue “Enter Virtual AGM” button, then following the Zoom link to join the meeting and using the website meeting page to vote and view documents. The entire process can be done on a computer or smart device, such as most modern cell phones and tablets. 

Despite the unfamiliar ground and changes associated with switching to virtual meetings, Heistad is confident our union will persevere and make it through 2021 even stronger. 

“We all have to come together to make this work and move forward," he says.

"There’s just too much at stake. I know AUPE members will rise to the challenge and help make our union even stronger and ready to fight, especially against a provincial government that can’t stop attacking us.”
Headshot of AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasuer Jason Heistad

Jason Heistad, AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasurer

Learn more about AUPE's 2021 Virtual AGMs and Elections

Moving meetings online means you’ll need to take a couple extra (easy) steps to participate in your AGMs this year.

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