On October 16, 1989 a group of pensioners met in the office of the Newfoundland and Labrador Government Managers’ Association, Prince Charles Place, and formed a committee to establish an Association for Newfoundland Public Service Pensioners. The names of those pensioners who attended this meeting and who formed the Steering Committee are as follows:
To facilitate the establishment of the Organization, the Committee decided to elect an Executive comprised of a Chairperson, a Secretary and a Treasurer. Carl Smith was elected as Chairperson, Ernest Shute was elected Secretary and Robert Learning was elected as Treasurer. The name chosen for the organization was “The Newfoundland Public Service Pensioners’ Association”.
The prime objective of the Association was “to promote the interests of public service pensioners by providing a medium for collective action on any matters affecting their well being”, e.g. changes in pension plan and the awarding of annual increases in pensions, etc. Membership dues in the Organization were set at fifty cents (50c) per pay period.
It was decided that the best way to structure the Steering Committee was to form sub-committees to be responsible for the different functions. The following sub-committees were formed and chairpersons appointed as follows:
Finance Committee, Robert Learning
Membership Committee, James Moore
Public Relations and Communications Committee, Bert Hillyard
Constitution Committee, Robert Rex and Carl Smith
It was agreed that the Membership Committee would prepare a draft membership card to be presented at the next meeting of the Steering Committee.
The second meeting of the Steering Committee took place on December 11, 1989. One new member was added to the original group in the person of Douglas Whitten. Considerable time was spent on the design of the “Application for Membership” card and the message to be printed to be sent to pensioners. It was decided that the Chairpersons of the Steering Committee and Membership Committee would meet with officials of the Department of Finance to get their support in communicating with all pensioners by including our Application for Membership in envelopes when cheques were mailed to pensioners.
The Chairperson of the Public Relations Committee reported that he had received twenty five telephone calls in support of forming a pensioners association, this was in response to an advertisement placed in the news media, at a cost of $45.00.
The third and final meeting of the Steering Committee took place on January 19, 1990. At this meeting, the Chairperson of the Steering Committee, Carl Smith and the Chairperson of the Membership Committee, James Moore, reported that they had met with the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Gilbert Gill and the Assistant Deputy Minister, Mr. Phil Wall, both of whom agreed with the idea of forming a pensioners association and offered their support in helping to communicate with pensioners. They also agreed that membership dues would be deducted from pensions and remitted to the Association, once the “Application For Membership” cards were signed. This was a major accomplishment in ensuring the financial viability of the Association.
A final draft of the “Application for Membership”, together with a message to pensioners outlining the purpose of forming the Association, was approved by the Committee and February 2, 1990 was set as the date to mail them to pensioners.
The Treasurer was authorized to open a bank account and signing officers were appointed. A draft Constitution was presented and adopted for presentation to the Founding Meeting which was to take place on February 20, 1990 in the auditorium of St. James United Church, Peyton Street, St. John’s at 2:30 p.m.
To ensure that all was ready for the Founding Meeting the following tasks were assigned to the individuals named:
Eric Rowe, Copies of the constitution and agenda
Ernest Shute, Registration sheets
Murley Bursey, Registration
Douglas Whitten, Fees from new members
James Moore, Applications from members
Bert Hillyard, Advertising and news coverage
Robert Rex, Nominating Committee
In response to “Application for Membership” cards mailed to pensioners by Department of Finance the mail started to come in. Since the committees had no Post Office Box it used the Post Office Box of Ernest Shute who offered it for the use of the Committee. Within a relatively short period of time, “Application for Membership” cards and the initial membership fee of $1.00 were received daily. These had to be picked up at the Post Office, opened, recorded and the cash deposited. By the date of the Founding Meeting, February 23, 1990 a total of 562 pensioners had voluntarily applied for and paid their membership fee of $1.00. This was exceptional, considering the amount of time pensioners had in which to respond.
The Founding Meeting set for February 20, 1990, had to be postponed until February 23, 1990 because of a severe snow storm. The meeting took place in the auditorium of St. James United Church, Peyton Street. There were 174 pensioners registered. The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m. by the Chairperson of the Steering Committee, Carl Smith. Ruby Driscoll acted as Secretary in the absence of the Committee Secretary, Ernest Shute, who was in hospital. A draft Constitution was presented and adopted, after several amendments were approved by those present. This Constitution provided for a Board of Directors made up of a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer comprising the Executive Committee, and eight other members to be elected at the Annual General Meeting. The Board of Directors elected at the Founding Meeting were as follows:
Board of Directors
Don Johnson, President
Carl Smith, Vice-President
Ruby Driscoll, Secretary
Ivan Lethbridge, Treasurer
The formation of an Association for public service pensioners, which was only conceived in October 1989, was accomplished in four months with the adoption of the Constitution and election of the Board of Directors on February 23, 1990. The members of the Steering Committee and others who assisted in this venture certainly deserve recognition for their dedication and work in forming the Association. This was a good beginning but much remained to be done if the Association was to accomplish the objective for which it was formed.
The new Board of Directors elected at the Founding Meeting, lost no time in getting organized to carry out its work, one indication of this can be seen from the number of meetings held dealing with Association business during the first ten months following the Founding Meetings. During this period, there were a total of sixteen Board and Executive Committee meetings held. The first President of the Association, Don Johnson, deserves special recognition for his dedication and work to ensure that the new organization was a success.
After ten years of steady growth in membership and service to members, it is good to look back and recognize the efforts of those who first conceived of forming such an organization and to the many volunteers who have given freely of their time and talents over the years so that all public service pensioners can have an Organization to represent them when the need arises.
*This article was written by Carl Smith, a Founding Member and Honorary Director, for presentation to the Tenth Annual General Meeting in recognition of the Association’s Tenth Anniversary.