'A fervent believer in social change, in the right to strike and the right to control our pension money.'
Ottawa (16 May 2008) - Jim Tait, a longtime activist and staff representative with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), has died at the age of 67.
“OPSEU owes a great deal to Brother Jim Tait and those of his era,” says OPSEU President Smokey Thomas. “Out of all the turmoil in building OPSEU in the 1970s came a much stronger union, much more responsive to the needs and aspirations of its members, and one that is always in the forefront to social change in Ontario.”
Jim was born March 13, 1941, in Leith, Scotland, and moved with his family to northern Ontario in 1957. He began his union career as a clerk with the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan (OHIP) and was elected Toronto president of the Civil Service Association of Ontario (CSAO), the forerunner of OPSEU, in 1982.
He went on to become one of the so-called "four horsemen” who were instrumental in turning CSAO into the member-run union that OPSEU is today. The others were Ron Haggett, Vic Williams and Neil Pollock. All later became OPSEU staff reps.
Jim officially retired in 2006 but returned to work part-time for OPSEU as a researcher until his death. He was also president of OPSSU staff union from 1979-81 and remained active in the staff union throughout his career.
"OPSEU owes Jim a great deal when you consider the political risks he took and the sacrifices he made for the union both as an activist and as staff," says a statement posted on the OPSEU website. "He will be missed by many in this union." NUPGE