In a new article about responsible pension trusteeship, OPSSU member Cheri Hearty talks about how the trustees of the SSU pension were able to help prevent a strike.
“The cleaners were able to get a fair first contract and they didn’t have to go on strike,” said Hearty in the article, which was published by an international organization called Committee on Workers’ Capital.
“If I could be a small part of that ultimate resolution as a fiduciary of workers’ capital, that’s amazing.”
Here’s an excerpt:
Interviewer: Can you describe how collective action by asset owners can enable a fund like yours to drive real world changes when it comes to the integration of human and labour rights in investments?
Cheri Hearty: Just like people join together in collective action to form unions, this is the same type of venture. You’re coming together with a common goal. You’re going to have diversity of thought and diversity of experience and that brings together a wealth of information. If you feel like that small minnow in a big ocean, all of a sudden, you’re ten thousand minnows in the same ocean. Collective action is really important; it can expand the effectiveness of individual trustee action.
For example, about a year ago, we were contacted because there was a labour trouble brewing at a mall in British Columbia. Cleaners were trying to negotiate a first contract at this mall. What they were asking for was the bare minimum: to be paid the average wage of their sector and for a few paid sick days in the middle of a pandemic.
The mall was wholly owned by one of the investment managers that the OPSEU Staff Plan invested with. The idea was to contact the investment manager and ask questions, for example, “What are you doing to rectify this issue, in line with your ESG policy?”
We contacted the investment manager and some other people did as well. We asked a lot of hard questions. I had expected to be brushed off because we’re a small plan, but they made commitments to us about what they were going to do.
It showed me that even though I’m from a small plan, my asking of questions can have some impact. The cleaners were able to get a fair first contract and they didn’t have to go on strike.
If I could be a small part of that ultimate resolution as a fiduciary of workers’ capital, that’s amazing.