PNA Convention 2021 by Sandy McKean

For fear of burying the lead, I’ll get right to the point.

Consider this article a call for all members of our pensioners national association to actively work to help increase our membership numbers.  Secondly, to join a rallying call for a mandate to aggressively fight for a place at the table to advocate for improved benefits for our members.

Not to paint an overly bleak picture, these are some of my observations over the last few months as a member of one of four committees given the task of developing the foundation for a 3-year action plan for the PNA national convention that look place in May.

First, let me backup. When I retired 14 years ago after a 35-year career at the CBC it never dawned on me NOT to become a member of the PNA.  For me I was leaving a place I loved and I did not want to lose connections I had developed over my CBC career.

Being a PNA member has kept me engaged. It has kept me informed on pension matters and social events in my chapter. There were always tidbits of news about members and the going-on activities of the association in dealings with CBC.

So late in 2020, I put my name forward to join one of the four committees assigned to examine issues related to Advocacy, Recruitment, Diversity and Communications.  Advocacy is where I landed.

Over the fall and into the winter the Advocacy Committee met numerous times to frame a report. Our committee was diverse made up of two colleagues from SRC Québec, a CBC member from the Maritimes and myself having worked in four locations ending in Toronto.

The four completed reports became the basic for discussions at the one-day ZOOM annual convention held May 18th. The morning business was presentations from each committee followed in the afternoon but open sessions for people to provide feedback and suggestions on how PNA should move forward.

Dozens of recommendations were proposed.

The key for me was membership numbers hovering slightly over 50 percent for all retirees.  Less than 50 percent is a recipe for disaster- it means the PNA could lose status as an association and more importantly its voice with CBC as it relates to our pensions and benefits. not only for us but for our spouses as well. New members are critical to any organization- fresh ideas, challenging opportunities and diversity.

Transparency is also important. As one of the Advocacy members pointed out where’s the democracy in the association.  A small group of delegates voted for a new slate of officers for PNA several days after the convention ended.  I was one of those who voted. The right to vote for the leadership team should be a right for all members. Now that’s a clear message to join and participate: The stronger the voice, the better for all.

There are many challenges ahead for PNA including a serious recruiting drive, establishing an effective lobbying strategy with CBC/SRC Senior Management, creating an identity for PNA while maintaining strong relations with the CBC/SRC unions and other public service unions and associations with like interests.

We all know these are difficult times. COVID- 19 has turned our world upside down. As an association looking out for the interests of CBC retirees and their families, keep this in mind. With no association, we have no voice. The CBC Pension Plan has from time to time shown a surplus that in the past has been used to improve our benefits.  Our PNA leadership just announced that an arbitrator has been appointed to work with CBC and employees on whether there are funds to help improve our benefits – or distribute the surplus amongst active pension plan members and pensioners/surviving spouses according to the level of contributions made.

So back to my headline:

Each of us can contribute to the challenges ahead. Remember the PNA represents all CBC retirees- from presidents to administrative staff, to programmers and people who keep the lights on so Canadians get to see the stories that tie us together.

When you run into old colleagues ask if they are members of PNA. If not, tell them what they are missing and how they can help make a difference.  Join and build strength in numbers.