Women and Unions
About 20 per cent of CEP's 115,000 members are women. They work in every region of the country at all kinds of different jobs secretaries, telephone operators, camera operators, pipefitters, paperworkers. And it's no wonder more women are joining CEP every day.
- Three-quarters of all part-time workers, and two-thirds of all minimum-wage earners are women. That means low pay, few benefits and little job security.
- Women don't always have the same access to good jobs as men.
- Women often do work of equal value to their male counterparts but get paid less for it.
- They are segregated into clerical, sales and service jobs where their skills are undervalued and underpaid.
- Women are sometimes subjected to harassment and even violence in the workplace.
- Women's health problems, such as breast cancer, repetitive strain injuries, and substance abuse are increasingly being linked to working conditions.
Women and CEP
CEP is waging the battle for equality on a number of fronts - at the bargaining table, in the courts, through union education, public campaigns and by lobbying politicians.
Action-oriented policies outline how to achieve our goals, be it developing an equality bargaining agenda for Locals, joining forces
with other unions or creating a media campaign.
The CEP Women's Committee is the driving force behind the union's progress on women's issues. Elected every two years at the CEP National Convention, the committee sets priorities and develops a plan of action.
Bargaining and Legislative Gains
We were one of the first unions to negotiate paid maternity leave, paid adoption leave and shorter work time.
We've also fought for:
- Higher wages - (Unionized women earn 33% more on average than women workers who are not unionized according to Statistics Canada.)
- More paid holidays
- Childcare subsidies and workplace childcare
- Better job security
- Protection against discrimination and harassment
- Paid leave for family responsibilities
- Pay equity
- Pension benefits
- Healthier workplaces
One reason women have unequal status at work is that they are still expected to do most of society's child-care and other family service work.
The CEP policy paper on Working Families defines what women need to balance their busy schedules. The Equality Action Plan proposes steps we can take within the union, at work and in society at large to benefit equality-seeking groups, including women.
Other policies outline the union's political action and bargaining goals on part-time workers, pregnancy-related disabilities, human rights, employment equity, anti-harassment, child-care and pay equity.
Representative Women's Committee
The growing number of women in our union is providing CEP with a whole new source of strength and leadership. Each region and sector where we have members is represented on the CEP Women's Committee, and at least one visible minority sits on the committee.
To help address the needs of CEP women, the committee is building a network for communication and support. It organizes a women's conference every two years that brings together members from across the country who share their experiences and learn new skills. In addition to promoting specific policies on women's issues, the committee works to improve CEP's outreach to all women workers. For example, racial minorities and women are now active in CEP organizing efforts. And to reflect the diversity of our membership, there are positions on CEP's executive board for women and for visible minorities.
The Women's Committee also publishes a newsletter regularly as well as specific materials on women's issues, like the anti-harassment kit . It makes a special effort to publicize significant dates, like International Women's Day, March 8th, and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, December 6 .
CEP needs you!
Clearly, the union movement has been a prime force in improving the quality of life for women.
The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada has and will continue to play a major part in this struggle. But we can't do it without our members' help.
Getting involved in the union will give extra meaning to your life and to the lives of so many others.
Contact the CEP Women's Committee for more information on how you can be a part of our growing strength.
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada