In this issue:
- Celebrate Pride Month by increasing inclusion of LGBTQ2SIA+ Steelworkers
- National Indigenous History Month
- Reflections from the 2022 ILGA World Conference
- Education Scholarships for Indigenous Steelworkers
- Starbucks workers file applications to join the United Steelworkers
- United Steelworkers files unfair labour practice complaint against Starbucks
- District staff changes
- First meeting of the USW Network for Women in Industry
Celebrate Pride Month by increasing inclusion of LGBTQ2SIA+ Steelworkers
In June, Steelworkers celebrate and support the expansion of rights based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. These rights have been won thanks to decades of hard work by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, Two-Spirit, intersex, asexual and other gender-diverse (LGBTQ2SIA+) persons.The USW has contributed to these gains and will continue to do so. You and your local union can help, too, by:
- Attending and supporting Pride events in your community.
- Reading and acting on our new inclusion tool, “Including LGBTQ2SIA+ members in the life of our union.”
- If you are a LGBTQ2SIA+ member in Western Canada and the Territories, join the D3 Steel Pride network on the Slack app. The network was created to help enhance inclusion, visibility and potential for success within the union, the workplace and the community. Join at www.usw.ca/districts/3/d3pridenetwork.
- Attend one of June’s Building Inclusive Locals Zoom events and learn: How can we work together to increase participation and inclusion of LGBTQ2SIA+ Steelworker in locals and workplaces?
Two chances to join:
– Wednesday, June 22 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific (8:30 p.m. Eastern); English only. Register at usw.to/44x.
– Thursday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern (4:30 p.m. Pacific); French-English interpretation provided.
Register at usw.to/44y.
Let’s make our union a safe and welcoming place for all!
On behalf of United Steelworkers District 3, I would like to wish our LGBTQ2SIA+ members a very happy Pride season!
USW District 3 Director
National Indigenous History Month
The month of June is an important opportunity for USW members and all Canadians to celebrate and to learn about the cultural diversity and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and better understand our own colonial legacy.
June is National Indigenous History Month and June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a time not only to celebrate but also to reflect on the atrocities and injustices suffered by Indigenous people, many of which continue to this day. This month of recognition includes the continuing discovery of mass grave sites at residential schools. Discoveries began at a grave site in Kamloops B.C. and are expanding across various sites all over Canada.
The USW is committed to reconciliation and to holding our governments accountable for their responsibilities in addressing past and continuing injustices. As a union, we must push governments to honour the treaties that were signed by previous Canadian governments and prior to that, the British Crown.
As we recognize National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day, members are encouraged to reflect on the land that you are standing on and the traditional keepers of this land. We must continue our tradition of being agents of change, showing the respect and dignity that the Indigenous people of these lands deserve.
If you or your loved ones are a residential school survivor and need to talk, please call: the national Indian Residential School Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419).
Reflections from the 2022 ILGA World Conference
Submitted by Lena Green,
USW Local 5220
In May, I had the opportunity to attend the 30th ILGA World Conference, hosted by the It Gets Better Project. Since the 1970s, the ILGA World Conferences have brought together LGBTQ2SIA+ leaders and activists worldwide. I was honoured to represent USW District 3 at the conference.
The conference taught me a lot about the struggles that LGBTQ2SIA+ people face daily. I have lived my life as an Indigenous lesbian and I know the struggle that entails. The biggest takeaway from the conference was realizing that I live a privileged life. Hearing about the hardships and struggles that individuals endured to attend the conference was quite the shock, let alone what other LGBTQ2SIA+ communities have to deal with in contrast to our community here in Canada.
In one of the first workshops I attended, I learned of the struggles of the two-spirit Indigenous people of Colombia. In Colombia, there is segregation between the Indigenous and colonized people. Indigenous people are separated from society, a lot like reservations here in North America; but unlike our reservations, if you are an LGBTQ2SIA+ Indigenous person, you are forced out of that community. You are displaced, with no home and no access to basic necessities. You genuinely have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. The primary purpose of this individual coming to the conference was to tell their story of how Indigenous and LGBTQ2SIA+ Indigenous people are treated and find ways to get help to the communities back in Colombia. What I learned from this workshop was about all the different Indigenous groups worldwide, and that the term “Indigenous people” doesn’t just apply to North America. I also learned that segregation is still a huge issue in other countries and that individuals are still isolated from their families and communities based on their sexual orientation.
During the two-spirit workshops, I met a couple of people that work with two-spirit youth here in Edmonton. Meeting these people was eye-opening as they shared some very startling statistics. One shocking statistic was that two-spirit youth have the highest suicide rate globally. This statistic is due to the daily struggles they face with abandonment from their families who have been colonized. They are often told that being gay is wrong and that who they are goes against the Bible, and the list goes on. Back in traditional times, being a two-spirit person was celebrated. You were able to walk the path of feminine and masculine lines, and you were considered the caregiver or a medicine person of the tribe. Two-spirit people were highly looked upon in the tribe, unlike today, where people are shamed and outcasted if they identify as two-spirit.
One of the main focuses during this conference was transgender rights, focusing on the youth in our community. After taking these workshops, I realized that it takes more than thinking outside of the box to combat what is going on in the world. It will take us burning the box to the ground and starting from scratch, where children are not born with gender ideologies. This means giving our children room to explore themselves and decide how they identify in a safe and loving environment, not only at home but also in the community. This also means not identifying their gender based on their biology when they are born, allowing children to grow and explore who they are as a person without labelling them based on their biological gender. We must teach our children that being different doesn’t mean being ridiculed or bullied and that you are who you are on the inside, even if it doesn’t match who you are on the outside. This way of thinking eliminates the initial box that all children are put into from birth, and it breaks down the wall that is placed around them from the moment they are born. Let’s start by identifying everyone as just human.
I will always be grateful for having the opportunity to attend this conference and expand my knowledge of the different communities in our world. These types of conferences are a fantastic venue for our union to participate in and learn from while expanding our own diversity policies and how to help our local communities. I hope this provides more insight into the LGBTQ2SIA+ community and how we all can do better to build a safer tomorrow for everyone.
Read Lena’s full reflection at usw.to/44z.
Education scholarships for Indigenous Steelworkers
There are two important events coming in October during the same week: the District 3 School in Kimberley, and the National Gathering for Indigenous Steelworkers in Sault Ste. Marie. We don’t want any members to miss out on these opportunities, but that might be a reality. To help facilitate participation from indigenous members, we are offering some scholarships, as follows:
- All indigenous members attending the October District 3 school will get a scholarship;
- Any member from District 3 attending the National Gathering will get a scholarship to a future district school.
If the local is looking for assistance in sending individuals to the National Gathering please reach out and we will assist. Please contact Dayna Sykes at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.usw.ca/events/3rd-national-gathering-indigenous-steelworkers
Starbucks workers file applications to join the United Steelworkers
The USW has filed applications with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) for a union-certification vote on behalf of 115 Starbucks workers at five stores in Lethbridge and 32 workers at the Millrise Centre location in Calgary.
In addition, USW has also filed with the British Columbia Labour Relations Board for certification for 39 Starbucks workers at Clayton Crossing in Surrey, B.C. The Surrey union-certification application has been filed under B.C.’s new single-step union certification laws that received Royal Assent from the province’s NDP government on June 2, 2022.
These workers join the growing number of Starbucks employees who are organizing across North America for better working conditions and wages.
“We are proud to welcome more Starbucks stores to our growing union family. It takes a lot of courage for workers to step forward to join a union, especially when we have seen the countless retaliatory and anti-union actions from Starbucks. It speaks volumes that workers are pushing back to make sure their voices are heard and we will be with them every step of the way,” said Scott Lunny, USW Director for Western Canada and the Territories.
United Steelworkers files unfair labour practice complaint against Starbucks
The USW has filed with the B.C. Labour Relations Board an unfair labour practice complaint against Starbucks after the coffee giant refused to extend wage increases to the unionized staff at the corporate drive-through store.
“Our complaint concerns Starbucks’ decision to implement significant wage increases for employees at its non-union stores in Canada, but not for those at its sole unionized store, in an effort to compel its unionized employees to cease to be members of the union,” said Scott Lunny. “This intimidating and coercive conduct arises from the significant anti-union behaviour from Starbucks and represents an interference with the administration of a trade union contrary to the Labour Code.”
On May 3, 2022, Starbucks Canada announced investments for its “partners” (employees), including increased pay, benefits and training.
In a letter to Starbucks, workers expressed their disappointment that Starbucks was refusing to include the partners of the unionized store and called on the coffee giant to do the right thing by extending the wage increases to them.
Starbucks has openly said that unions are unnecessary and has actively engaged in anti-union tactics to discourage workers from joining a union.
The union has launched an online campaign at usw.to/starbucksnow to send a message directly to Starbucks management, calling on them to extend the wage increases to unionized workers.
District staff changes
District 3 is pleased to announce staff changes following recent retirements:
• Mike Duhra, Assistant to the Director
• Earl Graham, District Coordinator
• Dean Lott, Area Coordinator, BC
• Darrin Kruger, Area Coordinator, AB & SK
• Mike Pulak, Area Coordinator, MB
• Tara Cavanagh, Staff Rep (Calgary)
• Cindy Lee, Staff Rep (Langley)
• Jonathan Karmazinuk, Staff Rep (Burnaby)
• Jeremy Wray, Staff Rep (Flin Flon)
First meeting of the USW Network for Women in Industry
Women work in industrial settings throughout our union – mining, forestry, manufacturing, transportation. This new network provides a confidential space for women in industry to meet, discuss issues of common interest, share ideas and support one another.
The Network for Women in Industry is sponsored by the USW National Women’s Committee and can pass along recommendations and requests for action to the committee.
Network meetings are hosted by Steelworker sisters who work in industry: Alecia McLeod (manufacturing sector, USW Local 7913, Brandon, Man.) and Geneviève Savard (mining sector, USW Local 5778, Fermont, Que.).
Meetings will be short, held on Zoom and have full English-French interpretation.
The first Network meeting will be on Zoom Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time (which is 6:30 p.m. Mountain, 7:30 p.m. Central, 8:30 p.m. Eastern, and 9:30 p.m. Atlantic time).
You can register at usw.to/43a.
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