Ontario’s construction, infrastructure, and transportation industries may come to a grinding halt by mid-June, reports the Ontario Compensation Employees Union (OCEU)/ CUPE 1750, whose employer rejected several proposals to address workplace barriers that prevent women from advancement, skill development, and participation in the organization, reports the union.

“Approximately 75% of our workplace’s lowest pay-scale earners are women. It’s no coincidence—we need to do more to dismantle the systemic issues that perpetuate gender discrimination and oppression at work,” says Harry Goslin, President of OCEU/CUPE 1750. 

The union has proposed a new recruitment and diversity mentorship program to help workers, particularly those from equity-seeking communities, access pathways to training and career advancement at IHSA. Additionally, the union proposes enhanced work-from-home language to ensure that workers have the supports and options they need to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities.

“Our employer flatly refuses to address the equity and inclusion issues we’re trying to address at the bargaining table,” says Annette Baker, OCEU Mobilization Team member. “There are huge gender disparities at our workplace—women earn less, are disproportionately stuck in low-wage jobs, don’t have access to training and skill development to advance, and are unfairly impacted by the employer’s decline of our modest proposals to enhance equity and inclusion at IHSA.”

CUPE members at IHSA are critical to keeping Ontario safe—they provide vital services to eliminate occupational injury and illness. Without necessary services that CUPE members provide, construction, electrical, natural gas, concrete, utilities, aggregates, and transportation industries would have to cease operations.

“Combatting occupational sexism and gender discrimination is essential to the health and safety of all workers,” continued Goslin. “We’re utterly disheartened that the employer refuses to work with the union to address these serious concerns.”

On May 20, the union’s bargaining committee requested a no-board report be issued by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. Once issued, a 17-day countdown to a possible legal work stoppage is triggered.

“The union remains committed to achieving a fair, mutually agreeable collective agreement that advances our goals at the bargaining table to enhance equity and inclusion at IHSA,” concluded Goslin.