Unity is the key to raising womens wages. Thats why CUPE is calling for the creation of 2000 womens committees, starting in the year 2000, to band together and fight for higher wages and workplace equality. Theyre a good way for the women in your local to identify the unique problems of women workers, carve out some space to share their experiences, support each other in their activism, and plan for mobilizing on equality issues.
Dont let the word committee scare you! Your committee can be formally structured (written into the locals bylaws and duly elected), or it can start out as an informal group that meets at the coffee shop whatever works best in your particular situation. It doesnt have to be a lot of work, or a lot of meetings. There are ways to spread the work around, keep things manageable, and even have fun!
If you are starting a womens committee, remember these points:
Try to recruit your CUPE sisters to come to an initial, informal gathering. Send out an invitation. It doesnt matter if the turnout is small its a start. Make it part social and part business.
Draw up a short list of topics you want to cover. Find someone to take on the responsibility of guiding the discussion and keeping it on track. Someone else should record all decisions.
Decide on a time frame for the business part of the meeting, perhaps one hour, and stick to it. Make sure theres a clear end to the business part of the meeting, so that those who have to leave early will know that other decisions wont be made in their absence.
If you decide you want a formal, permanent womens committee so that it is integrated into the locals structure, write up a motion to take to a membership meeting so that the committee gets written into the locals by-laws. And make sure you organize support for the motion ahead of time.
Develop a plan of action with realistic goals. That might mean having just one goal for the time being, and thats fine.
Hold meetings at convenient times and in convenient locations. If you meet outside work, make meetings children-friendly, and order pizza. If your committee has a budget, offer to pay child-care expenses.
Contact your national womens committee representative and your divisions womens committee. Let them know about your committee, and ask them to keep you informed about the work their committees are doing. This is especially important and helpful if your womens committee is new.
Remember that CUPEs Equality Branch has resources (publications and flyers) on equality issues. For more information, contact your regional equality branch representative (if your region has one), your servicing representative, or the Equality Branch at national office (613-237-1590).