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The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada > News & Events > Communications Magazine > Vol. 36, No. 3, Summer 2010 > Retired Members: A Valuable Resource
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Retired Members: A Valuable Resource

Retired members

There's much to be said about people who have reached the pinnacle of their careers, been successful, designed and implemented long-term plans and strategic visions, and are now retired. They are comfortable in the "post-peak" phase of their lives. It's somewhat analogous to star professional athletes who, after leaving the game or having their numbers retired, become great sports analysts, strategists, and commentators. They have already made a name for themselves, and they know the game; now they can use both qualities to contribute to the sport in a different capacity.

Many retired members know what it's like to occupy leadership positions. They’ve “been there, done that”. They have the skills, maturity, and finesse to perform well. Now, as retired members, they understand the importance of sharing their experience to contribute to the success of their union. Most are very well qualified to do this, since they've spent most of their careers evaluating, recruiting, coaching, and mentoring talent. They know the game, the rules, and the types of players on the field. They know what it takes to succeed, what it feels like to fail, and what level of risk and assertiveness is appropriate. They can discern the difference between a minor and forgivable mistake and a colossal error requiring a change. In short, they make excellent mentors, and, in fact, they have already mentored many current Institute leaders.

Retired members are not afraid of a fight. They have what it takes to stand up to a threat. Therefore, they tend to be more willing to take stands on important issues, such as strategic decisions. They understand the issues; they aren't afraid of the confrontation. These members don't have future promotions or pay increases hanging in the balance. That said, they tend to know how to use diplomacy and save the "heavy artillery" until absolutely necessary.

Remain Active!

Nearing retirement?
Consider remaining a PIPSC member!

For further information on maintaining your membership after retirement, please contact the Institute’s Membership Section at or the President of the Retired Members Guild, Joe Pelisek, at

Let’s not forget that retired members have spent most of their lives “fighting in the trenches”. They paved the way for benefits that working people now enjoy and the labour-management relations that benefit union representatives. They also understand the need to continue the fight to keep organized labour strong. As we learn from history repeating itself, retired members have seen their share of pension fights, pay equity disputes, wage caps, and suspended negotiations. These members have learned the ins and outs of union work, forged alliances, navigated the factions, and know how to work toward meaningful change and consensus on important issues. It would be a waste of talent not to use the wealth of knowledge and experience these members have to offer. One of the objectives of the Retired Members Guild is to “provide the Institute with access to a ready pool of experienced volunteers as needed.” We have a goldmine of knowledge and experience at our disposal!

Did you know that you can call on retired members to represent you except in formal grievances? They can act as mediators and are an excellent resource to be used in informal conflict resolution cases. They can help you navigate through complex forms and procedures, such as those involved in preparing for retirement or filing for a disability. Mentoring is another particular talent of theirs. The networks, experience, skills and abilities of retired members could also be used to further goals in areas such as political action, legislative lobbying, crisis assistance, research, communications, and public relations.

Retired members have chosen to remain members because they want to stay active in their union. They are healthy, mentally alert and committed to the Institute’s goals. They are just waiting to be of service. The Institute needs experienced volunteer organizers so we can target issues of concern and win more campaigns. Here are hundreds of former labour activists with great organizing credentials who would gladly lend a hand. Respect them and recognize their past and present contributions and future potential. Make them feel wanted and welcomed and they’ll flock to the cause. Let’s all unite and work together in solidarity for the public good.