As IAM Local 498 President, part of Shaun O’Connor’s responsibilities is similar to those of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) representative. At times, this includes the handling of members’ issues, such as sick, disabled, medical, or financial benefits. In any family’s time of need, making sure the surviving family member(s) receive the benefits they are entitled to help ease their burden.
O’Connor sees members affected by natural disasters, the loss of homes, and worst of all—the loss of loved ones. He also handles instances of drug and alcohol abuse by members and/or their family members. Finally, there’s the fear of long-tenured members reaching retirement, which can cause anxiety and fear. All of us have experienced nearly two and a half years of a global pandemic and the issues that it has raised. These are just some of the things that O’Connor deals with as a union and EAP representative.
O’Connor knew that education in employee assistance would be valued by his members. This led him to the Winpisinger Center’s EAP I course in 2018. Immediately, the course exposed him to a group of experienced EAP representatives who all shared their knowledge with the students attending the class. Attendees were taught tools and techniques that helped when working with members. Upon his return home from class, O’Connor was immediately contacted by members in need of assistance.
“The value of the decision of the lodge to send me to class was instantly realized, though no one could know based on the privacy required to protect members,” said O’Connor.
Through the rest of the year, members continued to utilize the EAP program that was still in its infancy within his Local.
The following year saw an extremely accelerated progression of our EAP program. The motion was made to complete the entire EAP program as quickly as possible, thus EAP 2, 3, and 4 were all completed. Once again, the experience while attending these classes was tremendous. Knowledge was shared and friendships were made to last a lifetime. It is within these friendships that O’Connor found the best tools and resources for his EAP work.
“Just like all the other things we do in our various union positions, we must always remember we are not alone, and it takes all of us to be successful,” said O’Connor. “In a member’s time of need, I may not instantly have the answer, but I have learned to communicate and now know where to go to get help for them.”
Today, O’Connor finds himself not only as President of Local 498 but is also currently serving as EAP Director for District Lodge 19.
O’Connor uses the tremendous resources within the IAM at all levels, whether it be Local, District, or the Grand Lodge.
“As members, we need to spread the word that help is available,” said O’Connor.
As long as our members receive the help necessary in their time of need, O’Connor feels that a big part of his job is done well. No matter where his path takes him in life, he will forever be an EAP representative and he believes all union representatives and members at all levels can benefit from attending the EAP courses or utilizing the program.
To contact District 19 EAP Director Shaun O’Connor, please email email@example.com or call 708-428-3650.
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