The Women of Steel program today

The bedrock of our Women of Steel program continues to be the course: “Women of Steel: Developing Leadership”. And in addition, we have:

  • A course for USW local women’s committees: “Leading Together”
  • USW Women’s committees in each district and at the national level
  • District Women of Steel coordinators to support the work of district and local committees
  • Campaigns at the national and provincial level on issues such as: sexual harassment, violence against women including missing and murdered Indigenous women, childcare, domestic violence at work, and pay equity
  • National women’s conferences
  • Anti-harassment training
  • A seat on the CLC Women’s Committee and on women’s committees of provincial federations of labour
  • Participation in women’s labour schools now operating in B.C., Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec

Speaking out and networking at the USW National Women’s Conference.

Women of Steel Today

Kristy Bard co-facilitating “Women of Steel: Developing Leadership”.

Who are Women of Steel?

Women of Steel are as diverse as Canada’s population. We are young, middle-aged, and older. We are straight, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. We are First Nations, Metis, and Inuit, or more recently arrived in Canada, from all cultural backgrounds.

One thing is for sure: we are a growing segment of our union. As USW organizes more workplaces, more women join our union and become Women of Steel.

Women work because we need to support ourselves and our families. Women of Steel are in all economic sectors where our union represents members:

  • Education
  • Telecommunications
  • Health care
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation and security screening
  • Mining
  • Hotels and food services
  • And the list goes on

Role of women and women’s committees in USW

This is our union! There are lots of ways women can play a role in our union, some of them—like being a steward—are of long standing. Or you could create a new role based on the needs of your local membership or in your community.

USW encourages women members to be leaders within the local union, as a way to make the local and our union stronger. You can be active in any elected or volunteer role.

Speaking out and networking at the USW National Women’s Conference.

One—but not the only—way that women take a leadership role in USW is through the local’s women’s committee. Here are some of the things that a local women’s committee can do:

  • Connect with and be representative of the diverse women in the local
  • Provide a safe environment for women to discuss current workplace, community or personal issues and strategies for change
  • Mobilize and educate women on their rights in the workplace and how to participate in the local
  • Educate and work with the men in our locals, so they will be good allies in advancing equality
  • Work with the Executive and other local committees on issues for women in your local
  • Research and advocate for collective bargaining provisions that advance women’s rights in the workplace
  • Support lobbying efforts for legislative change. Connect the issues important to women in your local to USW national and district campaigns
  • Act as mentors to young and newly emerging women leaders
  • Organize educational and social events for/with women in the local and with community
  • Assist with planning and organization of conferences and local schools to ensure the content, speakers and participants reflect the diversity of the union’s membership
  • Identify and pursue women’s training needs to ensure union courses and programs are accessible and available 

I want to get involved! Who do I contact?

Please talk to:

  • Your local’s women’s committee chair
  • Your local president or unit chair
  • The chair of your District Women’s Committee
  • Your staff representative or District Women of Steel Co-ordinator

For more information, visit usw.to/wos_support.