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"Politics" was a key word at the recently held 10th Biennale Women's Network Convention in Orlando, Florida. Like the UFCW Canada National Women's Advisory Council, the UFCW Women’s Network works to motivate and encourage women members to become more active in their union and their communities. The three-day convention mostly focused on the challenges and opportunities facing UFCW sisters across Canada and the USA — and the need take political action to protect the gains women have made, and to defend against the rising right-wing agenda in both the USA and Canada.
"Everything we have fought for can be taken away if we don't elect the right people," said Women's Network chair Rhonda Nelson in her opening address to the conference. "This is not something we can take for granted. We must engage women in our union and in our communities to vote in their best interest."
UFCW International President Joe Hansen's keynote address also pointed to the right-wing threat to workers, "in the United States and Canada in what I would call a 'war on workers'. In the U.S. it is being fought in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. In Canada, Mr. Harper and some of the provincial leaders have followed the lead of the radical right-wing in the U.S. We need to continue to fight. The more active you are, the more power you can have on politics — and power in politics equals power at the bargaining table and better lives for the members."
Of the 200 delegates attending the conference, 40 were UFCW Canada members, staff and officers from UFCW Canada Local Unions 247, 401, 832, 175,1000A, 500, as well as the Eastern Provinces Council and staff of the National office, including Nancy Quiring, UFCW Canada's director for the Western Provinces, as well as chair of the UFCW Canada National Council Women's Advisory Committee.
"Our sisters in the Women's Network are focused on the upcoming American elections in November and mobilizing to elect leaders who fully respect the rights of women in the workplace, and their rights to personal choice when it comes to health and family planning issues," said Sister Quiring, who was also re-elected as a member of the Women's Network executive board.
"In Canada, the same kind of right-wing is attempting to roll back labour rights and social programs which would have a very serious impact on women and families. So UFCW Canada's commitment to political action makes it all that more important to engage women members in their union, and in politics, to push to protect our rights and our families and communities."