Equity Principles for the Labour Movement
CUPE 3907 believes in a few basic principles to advance equity in the labour movement and renew its commitment to working-class members:
1. We believe in using anti-oppression principles and an intersectional framework to understand equity. This approach is necessary to understand the complex marginalization of certain individuals and groups from our union. For example, when unions seek to recruit more women to leadership positions, they must focus on more than just gender as the basis for women’s exclusion. Unions must consider how their women members might also experience exclusion based on their race, sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity (among others). This intersectional approach would promote the support of women leaders who are not exclusively white, heterosexual and able-bodied sisters.
2. We believe that union renewal must address the very culture and structure of our union, instead of simply adding a few token equity-based leadership and committee seats.
3. We believe in the power of mobilizing, educating and organizing equity-seeking members into autonomous groups. Groups such as the racial justice committee, or the women’s committee are necessary as a “home base” for members to share their common struggles and to engage in collective action. The labour movement should provide resources to enable the autonomy of these caucuses. Independent caucuses can then fearlessly critique entrenched leaders and suggest bolder initiatives to transform the union.
4. We believe in solidarity between oppressed groups. Each equity-seeking group must take a broad, integrated and inclusive approach to equity and learn about the struggles of others. Members must take up the union mantra of “injury to one is an injury to all.”
5. We believe in using the collective agreement to fight for equity. The collective agreement is one of the most important tools that workers have. Employment equity, transgendered and transsexual workplace accommodation, racial, sexual or psychological harassment, accommodation of Aboriginal cultural practices, violence in the workplace, pay equity are key equity issues that bargaining proposals should address. Members of equity-seeking groups should also be elected to bargaining committees so that their issues stay on the bargaining table.
6. We believe in equity representation in union delegations to conferences, conventions, educational opportunities and overseas trips. The exclusion of equity-seeking members from these key union networking and learning experiences reduces the visibility and participation of these members in key union work. Union locals can amend their by-laws to include target numbers for the representation of different equity-seeking groups.