The Difference Between Unions & Associations

The following article was written by a co-worker of mine at OPSWA (The Ontario PSW Association). Brian Danckaert is our new OPSWA Representative for Southwester Ontario. He works out of Windsor. I enjoyed this piece & think it it explains the differences clearly.

Many working PSWs are often misled with information being delivered regarding the roles of these two very different organizations. This article will attempt to differentiate the two in how each of these organizations play in representing the PSW in the workplace.
Unions were first created in the early 1900s to regulate a fair and safe work environment, acceptable hours of work and equality of pay.  Unions are still present and strong today albeit  some of the duties have become redundant due to the implementation of labour standards mandated and enforced by municipal, provincial, and federal government agencies.  Unions if in place are used to mediate issues or problems between the employer and employee to better the standards and work environment for the employee.  Unions negotiate on behalf of the employees with the employer to develop and solidify a structured plan that both parties agree upon in order to carry out the job at hand, also known as a Contract.  Unionized employees  usually have representatives consisting of fellow co-workers that work with the employer to put into effect agreements toward fair wages, hours of work, conditions of employment, time off and numerous other issues pertaining to the contract. Union dues on average, usually amount to the equivalent of a few hours of pay per month or in some cases a percentage of take home pay.  Variations of the dues will be contingent on the status of employment, full time or part time.
 Associations are not-for-profit groups usually requiring annual registration.They are often professional bodies acting to protect the group they represent. For PSWS, this includes developing, maintaining and upholding Scopes of Practice, Standards of Care and a Code of Ethics specifically for PSWs. Accountability and professionalism is expected of  its members. Development of continuing education, a resource centre and an information source are several of the deliverables for members. Associations can engage in issues between employees and employers that are not part of the binding contract by working as a third party alongside not only the employee and employer,  but also with the labour board and any other committees associated with the employment.
Associations play an important role for self employed PSWs providing care to clients.  Associations can offer access to liability insurance at a savings to members. Self-employed PSWs have support from a professional organization in the work field and members will be recognized as belonging to a larger body
Having a breakdown of the two entities and understanding the different roles for each and the benefits of being a member of an association   should help with understanding the need for professional support.
The most frequently asked question I get is,  Can I be a member of an association while I am a member of a Union?”  The answer to that golden question is absolutely, actually it is highly recommended that regardless of being in a union or not, a PSW should be a member of an association.
So remember, as a PSW delivering care in all environments stay informed,  practice within your scope to provide safety for yourself and the people you care for.
When you decide to join an Association just remember “We have your Back”.

Serving Life

We have Personal Support Worker’s who work in long-term care facilities. There are those that prefer to work in retirement homes. Some enjoy working with clients in a community setting. How about… PSWs who work in prison. WAIT, it get’s better: The people acting as the PSW are inmates themselves, helping to take care of other inmates.

I saw a documentary with the same title of this blog update and it blew my mind.

Serving Life documents prisoners in a Louisiana penitentiary who have volunteered for their hospice program. The inmates spend 2 weeks learning the basics of palliative care and how to properly care for their fellow inmates who are dying. We’re not talking dainty men on men here. We’re talking men who have been convicted of first degree murder. Armed robbery. Assault. Grand Theft Auto – you name it & someone’s done it. Some of these men have never been to a funeral. A man who once shot another human being in cold blood suddenly has tears in his eyes when he sees someone much older and frailer than him practically knocking on death’s door. I’m watching this… and I’m thinking, YES, THIS is a GOOD idea.

The inmates who volunteer for this program aren’t privy to another inmate’s information. They do not know what the person they are caring for is in for.

It’s as if they’ve made their own nursing home but inside a prison. Older inmates aren’t cognitive. Some even refuse palliative care. The same principles that I use with my resident’s is parallel in this documentary. If someone is on the edge of death, inmates take turns at 4h intervals to stay with them to make sure that they don’t die a lone.

Yes, they’re still criminals. Would they and SHOULD they be trusted to do this outside of their barbed wire home? Absolutely not. But this is their life now. THIS is their community and these people are now their family. Why not contribute and learn empathy.

“God doesn’t erase past actions. But this doesn’t do any harm for the future.”

It’s on Netflix. I HIGHLY recommend it.