By Heather Kelley
Grand Lodge Representative
We are labourers, assembly fitters, mechanics and machinists; we are hotel attendants and personal support workers; we are drivers and more. We have come a long way in the everyday jobs that people do to earn a living.
We are stewards, negotiators, servicing representatives, Presidents and General Vice Presidents in our Unions. We volunteer our time and our service to the IAMAW to fulfill our members’ needs each and every day.
We are partners and spouses, mothers, grandmothers and sisters at home. We work to take care of our families and we belong to our union to ensure a better life for all.
IAMAW sisters know that the support systems at home, at work and in our communities help us to grow and to reach for the stars. There are still many obstacles to overcome. Women still earn 30% less than most men,. We struggle to ensure we have quality, affordable child care. We continue to face harassment and bullying. Some of us struggle with domestic violence.
Whether you are involved in “One Billion Rising” events to recognize the harm done to society when women and girls face violence or “The Sisters in Spirit” vigils being held to remember the missing aboriginal sisters, we as women still have much to do to ensure that each of our sisters have the ability to Speak Out, Speak Up and Be Heard.
The labour movement is in for the fight of our lives and our sisters play an important role to encourage not just our employers and our unions but also our governments at all levels to recognize our contributions.
IAMAW sisters have laid the groundwork to encourage more women to organize and to seek out non-traditional jobs. We have been there to promote better health and safety, fairness and equality in bargaining for equal pay and opportunity in advancement, looking at ways we can encourage others to promote better child care, health care, pay equity, and ending violence against women and girls.
Women are playing an ever increasing presence in our union at all levels. We can make a difference when we work together for change.
International Women’s Day this year is a time to celebrate. We in the IAMAW know that change is an integral part of growth, so this year let us not just celebrate the changes we have made, but encourage all to work together in solidarity for the future!