Unions can develop their local’s sexual violence policies to guide union business and events. Procedures to prevent and address discrimination and sexual violence can be incorporated into local union bylaws. CUPE’s Equality Statement and the national Code of Conduct may be helpful references when amending or creating your own local bylaws and policy statements. CUPE’s Guide to Preparing Local Union Bylaws provides a sample code of conduct for locals.[i]
CUPE Education offers workshops on health and safety, stewarding and leadership that include training on preventing and responding to violence and harassment and building capacity to promote human rights. There are longer workshops on harassment, creating equality, human rights and being good allies. Speak to your steward, executive and national servicing and education representatives for more information on how to better train union leaders to recognize and confront sexual violence.
- Show your members that the union does not accept any form of sexual violence by having clear guidelines and policies for addressing it among members.
- Designate a trained steward or member to help lead work on addressing sexual violence.
- Encourage your members to write articles and create art and other forms of creative expression on the need to prevent and address sexual violence.
- Survey members about their experiences of sexual violence in the union.
Members may be reluctant to come forward with concerns about sexual violence. The union must be proactive to address it and build trust among members.
Locals can build connections with local front-line services and organizations who work to end violence and sexual violence, including rape crisis centres and women’s shelters. Many of the workers in these agencies and organizations are CUPE members. Build your local’s community outreach with patience, care, transparency and consistency.
- Identify organizations in your area and reach out to them with a clear ask or offer.
- Build relationships by meeting with staff and support workers to better understand the scope of their work.
- Discuss how to share resources, collaborate and exchange information.
- Provide fundraising support, information and training on workers’ rights in exchange for training from shelter and support workers.
- Local members may choose to volunteer with rape crisis centres, shelters and distress centres.
- Join in anti-violence campaigns, initiatives and events to help address and end sexual and gender-based violence.
- Get involved in community events like Take Back the Night, December 6th commemorations, 16 Days of Activism, International Women’s Day, PRIDE and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Union members can use these opportunities to become better informed on the complexities of sexual violence and to become more involved in the movement to end violence and sexual violence.
Ending sexual violence requires all of us working together to build futures that are just and free of violence.
[i] CUPE’s A Guide to Preparing Local Union Bylaws can be found at https://cupe.ca/sites/cupe/files/guideline_for_violence_prevention_in_the_workplace.pdf .