A plaque was unveiled to commemorate AUCE's role in gaining maternity benefitsJanet Szliske CUPE Communications

On November 13, after over a year of meticulous work, union leaders and activists gathered with archivists and librarians to celebrate the 45th anniversary of CUPE 2950’s predecessor, the Association of University and College Employees Local 1 (AUCE), with the unveiling of a digitization project. The goal was simple: to capture AUCE’s feminist historical contribution to working people.

It was a night for labour history, feminist activism and digital technology. AUCE Local 1, the first union to obtain fully funded maternity leave through ground-breaking language achieved by their first contract in September 1974, paved the way for equality and fair treatment in the workplace for many other women.

The project to archive this important piece of labour history began when 43 boxes of AUCE materials needed a new home. CUPE 2950 reached out to UBC Library to confirm the value of the records and funded a co-op student to sort and catalogue the material.

The digitization project began in May 2018 and produced 21,000 pages in almost 5,000 documents. The collection includes 4.5 linear metres of textual records, 793 photographs, 199 negatives, 37 slides, one audio cassette, and 23 pins. Each document is carefully described and categorized so that anyone can find information needed for a thesis or project related to workers’ history.

CUPE 2950 President Karen Ranalletta described the work behind the scenes required for this collection as incredible.

“Workers’ voices are often not reflected in acade­mia. By investing in our local’s history, the voices of our founding members will be preserved and honoured,” said Karen. “Our union was organized in the library and now it will live on in the library,” she added.

The digitized AUCE fonds in UBC library’s Open Collections is accessible at: open.library.ubc.ca/collections/auce