Tuesday, October 18, 2022

After more than 20 years at the helm of APS, Claude Beausoleil will be leaving the Association to enjoy the benefits of retirement. Quoting George Bernard Shaw, Claude told us, « We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old when we stop playing. » Which leads us to suspect he is leaving with a smile on his face. The date for this new juncture of his life will coincide with the APS National Council to be held on November 15 and 16, 2022.

The Birth Of APS

Along with his tenure as APS General Manager, Claude’s involvement with the Association started at the very beginning of its history. He was hired as an Industrial Relations Consultant by ACMA in 1993, to convert that Association into a bona fide union.

  « I was there in Ottawa when Don Reynolds, the Eastern Region Director from St. John’s tabled a resolution to convert ACMA into APS because the National Executive members wanted more power to deal with the employer. Don made a vibrant plea, thus convincing everyone around the table to support a unanimous decision to unionize. Then, they asked me to make it happen…this is how it all began. »

The application before the Canadian Industrial Relations Board was filed in 1993 and certification was approved in 1995 to launch the new union after an acceptance vote of 71% by the members. Claude had taken the challenge to design and organize an association compatible with the values of ACMA while complying with the very stringent unionization rules.

The Creation of the Job

The first five years of the existence of APS were done without the role of a General Manager to oversee the management of the Association. The role was filled by the National President, who had taken on the responsibility with a full-time commitment. Réal Jean, who had been at the helm since the beginning with the then coordinator Christine Morin, called Claude in 2000 to come on board to support the new National President, Stephen Moore, from Toronto. The latter had decided to opt out of the possibility of a full-time leave of absence. At the time, the Association’s finances were precarious and the membership was minimal. But the commitment to keep contributions at 1% of salaries was still firm with the National Executive, which made the challenge of managing the fledging organization all the more interesting to the new General Manager.

« We started by scrapping the office. We got rid of all the furniture and office equipment while breaking the lease we had with the owner; I guess we started the telecommuting movement before it became popular, » says Claude, who started to work from home in the Town of Mont-Royal along with Christine Morin in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. Major changes were also added to cut expenses in legal fees so that the association slowly but surely found its way to the level of prosperity it enjoys today.

« I am leaving with the satisfaction of having been part of a fantastic, fruitful experience in creating a new brand of union made specifically to meet the needs of professionals and supervisors at the CBC. However, most of all, my stay at APS allowed me to discover three work colleagues, Christine (Morin), Gisèle (Perron) and Maria (Gaglione), who became friends rather than employees and, of course, the whole gamut of APS officers I had the pleasure to deal with, including Mario Poudrier as longest standing the pillar of the organization. With Stéphane now holding the reins, APS is in the best hands for the future. »

From Rags to Riches

In the short span of 27 years (1995–2022), APS has succeeded in establishing a solid and efficient organization dedicated to the well-being of the 1000 members it represents. Claude recalls the state of working conditions when he started, « There were as many work contracts as the number of contractual workers in APS; it went as far as members relinquishing their 12.5% salary upgrades in their individual contracts. We cured the problem by imposing a standard contract for everyone. There was no paid overtime for most of our members; CBC considered them managers. We cured that one by instituting the averaging formula we still use in our collective agreement.  From a solitary grievance won in arbitration in the first years of existence, the union needs three law firms to handle the representation flow to defend its members. » Claude Beausoleil is leaving thankful for having played a major role in that evolution.

 « I never imagined this dream sprouting from those pioneers in the spring of 1993 in Ottawa would come through. Creating an independent union totally dedicated to promoting and defending the professional interests of CBC employees. »

Around the table that day, there were Jean-Jacques Bérard, the founder of ACMA, Peter Tiedeman, Luc Lajoie, Janice Murray, Jacques Robichaud, Roger Kennedy, Michèle Grégoret, Sadek El Bahar, Don Reynolds and Réal Jean, the President.

The Search Is On

To succeed Claude, a selection committee has been appointed under the direction of Stéphane Désautels to oversee recruiting operations. Normand Gélinas, a recruitment specialist, has been hired to support the rest of the team, made up of David MacFarlane, Nathan Farr, Sébastien Fleurant, Calum McLeod and Katherine Domingue.

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