This March 8th, people around the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, which was established in 1911 to acknowledge and commemorate the social, political and economic achievements of women.
The achievements of women since then are extraordinary and many of them were won through collective action and engagement in the labour movement: where UFCW Canada women have always played a central and dynamic role.
With the passing of long-time UFCW Canada leader and trailblazer Huguette Plamondon late last year, we witnessed the end of an era and we reflect on what is required to protect our past victories and gain more ground in the fight for equal rights.
UFCW Canada remains fully committed to that fight. Our history and values as Canada’s largest private-sector union – as well as our composition (the majority of all UFCW Canada members are women) – demands that we lead the way in creating a higher level of equality that includes more women at the decision making tables of society.
The UFCW Canada National Women’s Advisory Committee is working hard to help members know their rights and entitlements as workers and citizens, and to encourage them to take active roles in determining the future of their communities. UFCW Canada’s contribution to the equal rights movement is further fueled by the member-activists (profiled at ufcw.ca/women) and officers across the country who proudly serve the spirit of trailblazers like Sister Plamondon, and who dedicate themselves to building on their union’s strong tradition of establishing higher standards of fairness in the workplace and beyond.
UFCW Canada’s identity – what our union believes in, what it stands for, and what it aspires to be – has largely been shaped by women. As the champions of many progressive causes, UFCW Canada women have helped our union earn a reputation that is synonymous with workers’ rights, the pursuit of social justice, and a firm commitment to fostering safe working environments.
Time and time again, our union has demonstrated to the world that certain industries and particular companies are not beyond the scope of organized labour. Extracting a fair deal from corporations like Walmart – which currently faces the largest gender discrimination case in history – has never been easy, but we will not be intimidated, and we will not rest until the benefits of unionization are extended to our unorganized brothers and sisters. Because of UFCW Canada women, I am certain they will be.
Vol. XI No. 10 • March 7, 2011