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February 26, 2003


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

March 21 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

CUPE’s policy Challenging racism in the workplace calls for renewed action in turning our workplaces – and our communities – into racism-free zones. Recognizing the ongoing work needed, not just on March 21 but every day, we are pleased to provide CUPE members and staff with new tools to raise awareness and to stop racism ― I FIGHT RACISM pamphlets and posters.

The I FIGHT RACISM poster is designed with a ’mirror’ to challenge individuals to see themselves as racism activists. The I FIGHT RACISM pamphlet outlines actions small and large that we can take as members, staff and locals, as well as at provincial and national levels.

Both the poster and pamphlet can be ordered through CUPE’s Equality Branch and samples are available from CUPE Regional Offices. See the enclosed Action Sheet for ideas and ordering information. The Equality Branch and the National Committee on Racism, Discrimination and Employment Equity (CUPE’s National Rainbow Committee) are coordinating this initiative, and you can contact them for assistance and information.

March 21 is the ideal time to renew our commitment to the goal of ending racism. Working together, we can make a difference.

In solidarity,

National President

National Secretary-Treasurer


March 21

International Day for the Elimination of

Racial Discrimination

· It was on March 21, 1960 that white South African police fired more than 700 shots at peaceful black demonstrators protesting discriminatory ’pass laws’ in the Sharpeville Township. Sixty-nine were killed and 180 wounded.

Almost all were shot in the back.

· The 1996 Canadian census showed that on average workers of colour (including Aboriginal workers) earned 15 per cent less than the national average for all workers.

· In 1999, only one in five workers of colour and Aboriginal workers (22.1 per cent) were covered by a collective agreement, well below the 32 per cent rate for all other workers.

· Women workers of colour and Aboriginal women workers who are unionized earn a third more (34.3 per cent) than non-union workers of colour – a significant pay advantage.

· Workers of colour and Aboriginal workers are less likely to hold jobs that provide pension coverage.

* Statistics from the Canadian Labour Congress research paper Is Work Working for Workers of Colour?



Here’s what you can do to challenge racism in your workplace:

  • Order pamphlets and ensure they are distributed among members.
  • Order posters and display them prominently in the workplace.
  • Download individual I FIGHT RACISM flyers that can be copied and posted by every CUPE member in every workplace.
  • Ensure that representation to upcoming provincial and national conferences and conventions reflects the local’s diversity.
  • Invite members from your local’s diversity groups to bring forward resolutions and proposals for action to the conventions.
  • Use the Thinking Equality checklists when preparing materials and organizing events.

To order pamphlets or posters, contact:

CUPE Equality Branch
Phone: (613) 237-1590
Fax: (613) 237-5508
E-mail: equality@cupe.ca

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I Fight Racism