FORT SASKATCHEWAN, Alta. – The United Steelworkers (USW) National Women’s Committee’s anti-violence initiative has led to new contract language at the bargaining table for workers in Alberta.
Rivercrest Care Centre employees, members of USW Local 1-207, have ratified a new three-year agreement that for the first time includes contract language for domestic violence leave.
“New provisions on domestic violence leave are an important precedent because domestic and sexual violence is still a problem in Canada,” said Ray White, President of USW Local 1-207. “Thanks to the anti-violence work by our Women of Steel committee, we’re doing something about domestic violence by negotiating leave provisions at the bargaining table.”
The new contract for 160 employees at Rivercrest in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., also includes 3% wage increases over the term of the agreement in an economic climate where rollbacks have been the opening position of health-care sector employers. The deal provides new night-shift premiums and updates language on a discrimination-free workplace consistent with the Human Rights Code in Alberta.
“I’m proud of these Steelworkers for taking action. They’ve taken our campaign to end violence against women and made practical steps to address it through workplace bargaining,” said Steve Hunt, USW Western Canada Director. “If we can get more employers adding leave provisions, provincial governments will have to follow suit, so all employees will have these protections.”
Workplace domestic violence leave provisions provide those experiencing violence with time off for legal, medical, counselling or other appointments without jeopardizing their employment. Leave provisions maintain confidentiality while reducing the stigma often experienced by those in domestic violence situations.
Momentum is building for adding domestic violence leave provisions to laws and union contracts to protect workers. The Province of Manitoba added domestic violence leave provisions to employment standards legislation in 2016. A private member’s bill is under consideration in Ontario. Members of USW Local 1-405, hospitality workers in Kimberley, B.C., negotiated domestic violence leave provisions for the first time, ratifying their contract Jan. 18.
Domestic violence against women and girls continues to be a problem in Canada, with one in three Canadian women over the age of 16 experiencing sexual assault in their lifetimes. Recent research found that domestic violence often follows people to work, putting safety and jobs at risk. Collective bargaining can play an important role in keeping people safe and supported at work.
The USW Women of Steel anti-violence initiative – Let’s End Violence Against Women and Girls – includes a presentation, brochures, white ribbon pins and posters.
Members of the Steelworkers across the country are presenting the materials at membership meetings and in bargaining with employers to raise awareness, break the silence and take steps to end violence against women and girls.
For further information:
Steve Hunt, USW District 3 Director (Western Canada), 604-683-1117
Ray White, President, USW Local 1-207, 780-463-9070, 780-288-5885, email@example.com
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org