CUPE women spoke out loud and clear about union women’s leadership at the international Women Deliver conference in Vancouver last week. Representing CUPE National were Gloria Lepine, Diversity Vice-President (DVP) for Indigenous members, Yolanda McClean, DVP for racialized members, Elizabeth Dandy, Director of Human Rights and Cheryl Colborne, British Columbia Human Rights Representative.
Women Deliver is the largest global women’s conference, held every three years. It brings together government representatives, civil society organizations and the private sector to discuss women’s issues.
At this year’s conference, a strong delegation of trade union women from Canada and other countries made their presence felt by speaking out against liberal policies and the dominance of corporate solutions to women’s oppression. The delegation challenged discussions which undermined the importance of working women’s struggles and failed to highlight the crucial perspective of women marginalized by race, colonialism, ability, gender identity and other forms of oppression. Labour women highlighted collective action, the right to organize, public services and the need for progressive taxation. Their interventions were much needed in troubling sessions, focusing on the need for individual entrepreneurship, private financing and the inevitability of the gig economy.
CUPE was one of the sponsors for a well-attended event hosted by the Canadian Labour Congress and the B.C. Federation of Labour on #UnionWomenDeliver: Labour Victories and Challenges. HEU member, Catalina Samson, spoke on the panel about the compelling story of contract flipping and privatization in B.C.’s health care sector under the former Liberal government and the recent victory for successor rights under the new NDP government.