Desjardins Card Services (DCS)
Christine has worked for Desjardins Card Services (DCS) since 2000. The company employs over 600 unionized employees; previously represented by Local 502 and now by Local 500 since the merger. Christine had previously worked for 10 years for a Tau Natural Foods store. When she started working there her store wasn’t unionized and it was later that it became part of the
local union 502.
But Christine, an energetic young woman, had other ambitions and when a friend mentioned DCS she applied right away. In the beginning she held a customer service representative position, and then in 2002 she obtained the position of subject matter specialist. She supports representatives through coaching and also manages the most difficult cases.
She was surprised to learn that DCS employees were also represented by UFCW Canada Local 502. When the collective agreement was renewed she attended the ratification meeting. She was somewhat mistrustful of unions which she explains by the fact that she didn’t really understand the role they play. So at the meeting she asked a lot of questions.
She discovered that her mistrust was unfounded. Her union representative at the time convinced her to become a department steward in 2002 (there are 14 department stewards in the company), and then in November 2008 she became the chief steward. She also participated in the latest negotiation of her collective agreement. There were only women seated at the table, with the exception of the management spokesperson.
Ironically, at the time she lived with her sister who was also an executive at the company. Because of this she couldn't talk about the negotiations.
For Christine, one of the imperatives of the negotiations was to establish communication mechanisms with the employer in the form of time banks for union leave for delegates, monthly meetings between department stewards and their managers, work committees, and more.
According to her, the union’s role is not only to bring up problems, but also to cooperate in finding solutions – to be constructive. She works equally hard to build support which is why she is trying to increase the size of the union team. Even though she herself is only in her early thirties, she finds it important to educate young people in their twenties who don’t always understand the union's role.
Through her experience in the union she has learned to develop her diplomatic talents which have helped her to build her credibility with her employer. It is important to her that the union is visible and that it speaks with one voice — one united voice.