“Black, Indigenous and racialized workers are often stuck in precarious jobs despite their education, skills, and experience. That precarity weakens workers, our union, and our communities. With this strategy, we are building capacity to expand opportunities for CUPE members and their families.” - Michele Alexander, co-chair, CUPE National Rainbow Committee
As a union, one of the most important venues for effecting change in our fight against racism is at the bargaining table. Our collective agreements are one of our strongest tools to dismantle systemic racism and other forms of discrimination that members experience.
That’s why the sixth goal of CUPE’s new Anti-Racism Strategy is to bargain to eliminate systemic racism and workplace inequities.
The Anti-Racism Strategy calls on locals to adopt an anti-racist approach to bargaining. But what could that look like?
As just one example, the Strategy calls for the creation of designated equity seats on bargaining committees so that all members’ voices, lived experiences and needs are heard during the bargaining process.
It also recommends that locals include questions about equity and discrimination in surveys, and take some time to review the collective agreement with an anti-racism lens, focusing on things like possible wage discrimination, racism as a health and safety issue, and the need for leaves for cultural and religious reasons.
The Strategy also recognizes the over-representation of Black, Indigenous, and racialized workers in precarious work, and that we cannot have justice in the workplace unless we fight for better benefits, pensions, and job security for everyone. Fighting precarious work must be a priority at the bargaining table, and it’s a critical part of an anti-racism bargaining agenda.
We must also prioritize employment equity to build a workforce that represents the communities we live in. We can achieve this through collective agreement language that establishes fair hiring and promotion processes, targeted training opportunities, and the formation of joint employment equity committees, just to name a few.
Between now and our National Convention in November, ask what actions you and your Local can take to fight systemic racism and inequities, and better advance the priorities of Black, Indigenous and racialized workers at the bargaining table.
This is the sixth in a series of ten features profiling the goals of CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy. Read the full series here.