From across North America, members of the UFCW Women’s Network recently met in Vancouver for the network’s semi-annual executive board meeting. Like the UFCW Canada National Council Women’s Advisory Committee, the UFCW Women’s Network works to motivate and encourage women members to become more active in their union and their communities.
“Across North America more than 700,000 women are UFCW and UFCW Canada members,” says Sister Quiring. “Their active participation strengthens our union and our communities. As sisters, we can also have a tremendous impact on what’s going on in the political arena.”
Women and politics was a major topic at the two-day conference with a Canadian federal election looming, and recall campaigns being mounted in American states where collective bargaining rights are under attack. A keynote speaker at the meeting was Dawn Black, the NDP Leader of the Opposition in the British Columbia legislature. Her message had resonance for sisters on both sides of the border. ”You have to get involved in order to ensure that women’s issues are at the forefront like childcare, and equal pay for equal value, and violence in the workplace.”
The Walmart workplace was also on the agenda as Sister Esther Lopez of UFCW International outlined a strategy to battle Walmart in the United States by aligning with anti-Walmart community activists, as well as bringing political pressure to block Walmart expansion plans in large US urban centres. Sister Rhonda Nelson, chair of the Network, led a discussion on the assault on workers rights in Wisconsin and other U.S. states, and the major mobilization of the UFCW membership to counter those attacks.
Sister Suzanne Hodge, the president of UFCW Canada Local 247, was also a presenter. Sister Hodge described her two-decade journey as an activist, union representative, and now as president of Local 247.
A performance by Lucia Misch, a Vancouver spoken-word artist powerfully distilled the challenges and courage that sisters on both sides of the border have shown, and continue to show, as activists and leaders.
Sisters at the meeting also went away with plans to adapt Moneyskills for the American woman membership. Moneyskills is a personal financial planning workshop and curriculum that was recently developed and launched by the UFCW Canada National Council Women’s Advisory Committee.