2018 International Women's Conference Delegate Bios - Districts 1 to 6

We asked some of our most stellar sisters who are attending the 2018 International Women's Conference in Toronto, Ontario, some questions about being an activist and more. Check out some of their bios below.

DISTRICT 1

nicolepName: Nicole Perry

Local #: 979

HometownCleveland, Ohio

EmployerArcelorMittel

Job title: Service Tech in quality department

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No, this is my second. I was at the one in Pittsburgh three years ago.

What are you most looking forward to? The last conference led me to step up and take on a position as WOS chair, and it led me to run for office as treasurer, even though I didn’t win. This time I want to gain information so I can get more of the women in my local involved and get the committees to work together like our Next Gen and Rapid Response and Veterans’ committees.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It’s empowering. It means I have a support system. I know each local is different, but for me it’s a real sisterhood because I had some good mentoring coming out of Women of Steel.  In this industry, it’s not always welcoming to women, but having that support system lets us go forward and make the changes that need to be made.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think we need to get away from some of our past ideas and add more inclusion of women. I think if we need to educate some of our male members. Lots of times when they go and look for people to do certain jobs in the local, they automatically go to men. We have “committeemen.” We need more “committee persons.” I believe in respecting our past, but we need some new traditions that include everyone and make them feel comfortable.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Generous

kathyhName: Kathy Hardesty

Local #: 731

HometownChillicothe, Ohio

Employer: Glatfelter Paper

Job title: Maintenance safety advocate

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No, it’s been a while since my first one.

What are you most looking forward to? Right at the moment, I want to look at the SOAR program, because I’m at the end of my career, but I’m not ready to give up the union and the union activity.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” Leader, activist, compassion

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think they do a good job now. I’ve been around it for a good while, and it continues: they keep trying to get more and more people involved. They are giving women the opportunity to learn by promoting what women can do and how they can raise their voices.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Pro union, strong opinions

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix

DISTRICT 2

jackieaName: Jackie Anklam

Local #: 9899

Hometown: Saginaw, Mich.

Employer: St. Mary’s of Michigan/Touchpoint

Job title: Environmental tech

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No. I first went to the one 2009 in Toronto.

What were/are you most looking forward to? I’m looking forward to getting information to take back into my local especially so we can start working to get more women to get active. It’ll be good to re-energize our Women of Steel committee, given than the primary membership at my local is about 85 percent female.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I’ve listened to a lot of the other Sisters talk about the hurdles they struggled to overcome to be active in their locals. It makes me feel good that my local doesn’t have some of the same struggles, like male dominance, because I work with primarily women. And when you work as a big group of women, as Women of Steel, on a project like volunteering or on an action like phone banking, it makes you feel like you belong there, that you are actually doing something to make the world better. Women of Steel gives the union a more female structure.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think, first and foremost, there needs to be a lot more education when it comes to defining what exactly our roles are. I think that along with that comes the need for more opportunity for women. They ask us to step up when they need us for political action or at rallies. We’re there when they call, and I think they depend on us so much. But they need to realize that given the chance, we could mobilize this union even more.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Diversified

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix

karensName: Karen Sweere

Local #: 247

Hometown: Green Bay, Wis.

Employer: Procter and Gamble

Job title: Technician operator in Charmin department

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No, it is my second.

What are you most looking forward to? Meeting the sisters that I’ve seen at the last conference and seeing new ones. I’ve met a few new people already who are just amazing.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I am so proud to be a Woman of Steel because I support everything the union stands for, and I want to empower women to be all they can be.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? It can help by just supporting us in everything we bring up, supporting our needs. It can help us address issues that we’re fighting for. Right now, for me, it’s the issue of homeless women. I have one in particular that I’m coaching, earning her trust, trying to help her as much as I can and hopefully get her out the situation she’s in. Our WOS committee does blessing bags, and that’s how I first approached this.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Building strength

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix. I don’t watch Netflix.

DISTRICT 3

aleciamName: Alecia McLeod

Local #: 7913

Hometown: Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Employer: Behlen Industries

Job title: Welder

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes – for International conferences. I attended a Canadian Women’s Conference 10 years ago in Saskatoon.

What are you most looking forward to? I am looking forward to the courses – dealing with female subjects: health and safety, gloves not fitting, having proper changerooms, not just the washroom.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I’m quite proud of it. It means having a sense of belonging. I was on vacation in South Dakota this summer and saw a woman wearing a Woman of Steel shirt. I didn’t speak to her, but I knew I could have – it gives me a sense of connection.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equality? It’s having a voice behind you. In our workplace, there are only two of us. It’s having support, ideas and learning from others who have overcome the same type of roadblocks.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Family

If you had to live without one of your phone, Netflix, cheese or men, which it would be? Cheese

Name: Michelle Strickland

Local #: 1-405

Hometown: Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada

Employer: East Kootenay Community Credit Union

Job title: Commercial Sales Representative

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes!

What are you most looking forward to? The whole experience is huge for me. Networking. Any opportunity to see other sisters is big. I’m here with two sisters from my local and one of them is new to the union.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I find any Women of Steel activity such as meetings empowering. It’s important for women to stand together. I’m a woman of recovery and it’s very much intertwined. I had to learn to look after myself and Women of Steel is about that, too – strengthening and supporting each other.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equality? There has been a lot of focus on mental health issues. And women are going to help get rid of the stigma because women are open and accepting and stepping up to help people who are suffering. We need to head in that direction because so many are affected by mental illness and addiction.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Family             

If you had to live without one of your phone, Netflix, cheese or men, which it would be? Men


DISTRICT 4

cindymName: Cindy Marlow

Local #: 8823-09

Hometown: Lancaster, N.Y.

Employer: Hale Northeastern

Job title: Department head of wardrobe

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No. My first was over 20 years ago.

What were/are you most looking forward to? The networking, the camaraderie, the gathering of any knowledge I can take back, the new friendships and the ability to mentor.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It is in my blood. It’s extremely fulfilling. It’s actually a passion now. I’m happiest when I’m doing this above all other things besides being with my son. I survived at my job because of the knowledge I received from the union at large and the Women of Steel.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? They have to make sure there’s always an open door to let women voice their opinions. I’d like to see a different type of chain of command. If a woman has a problem, she goes to her local union president and chances are, he’s a man and chances are he’s not going to want to work to deal with it. I’d like to see a different channel so a woman can get the help she needs—one that helps women.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Never a dull moment

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix—I don’t have it anyway.

jessicarvName: Jessica Rios Viner

Local #: 6135

Hometown: Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Employer: GFR media

Job title: Reporter

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes.

What are you most looking forward to? I’m looking forward to just learning and connecting with all the sisters from all over, learning about each other and what we can implement in our locals and teach them about the troubles we’re facing.  It’s about building power together.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?" It means power. It means strength. It means unity. It means being able to build and rely on a sisterhood so we can not only help and fix problems not only in our local but also in our communities.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? First of all, they already help with the wage gap with a contract and visibility and giving light to the problems women are facing. It helps us overcome them together—in many places around the world at the same time, not just in one area.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Together. All in.

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Men. We don’t really need them. We kind of do, but not really.

DISTRICT 5

nancylName: Nancy Lapointe

Local #: 1976

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

Employer: Canadian Pacific Rail

Job title: Inspector of containers and other equipment, but currently on leave working full time for my local

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes! As the vice president of my local for District 5, I usually try to get other women involved.

What are you most looking forward to? Because this is an international conference, I was looking forward to seeing people from my leadership course and to meet new Women of Steel.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” We are a visible minority in the union. Even though there are more and more of us, we are still a minority, and we need to take our place!

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? We can’t bury our heads in the sand. Sometimes when we want to take our place in the union, we are put in our place. In my local, there is lots of space for women to lead, but I’d like to see the same thing within our larger union.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Inclusive

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Cheese

nancytName: Nancy Thibault

Local #: 9291

Hometown: Rouyn-Noranda, Canada

Employer: Au Jardin Pierrot Childcare Centre

Job title: Early childhood educator, but I’ve been released full-time for most of the past seven years to do Organizing in District 5.

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No, my first WOS conference was a national conference held in Toronto at the Holiday Inn about six years ago.

What are you most looking forward to? I am looking forward to getting a good dose of energy from my sisters!

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” To me it means we add diversity to the union. We are one hell of an asset!

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think the USW could start by having true equality within our union. At the Steelworkers, we are good secretaries, good staff reps, but not yet area coordinators or directors. Even though we only represent 20% of the membership, we don’t see that level of representation in the union’s leadership. We ask governments to improve women’s representation, we should be doing the same within our own organization. I don’t think there’s a lack of good will. I just think we are a bit stuck in the very masculine tradition of the union (mines, steel, etc.)

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Egalitarian – within our local men and women are in equal numbers around the table (as elected representatives)

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Cheese

DISTRICT 6

donnamName: Donna Wingrove

Local #: 8782

Hometown: Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

Employer: Stelco

Job title: Boiler Operator

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? This is my fourth international conference. The first may have been in Vancouver.

What are you most looking forward to? Networking. Hearing sisters’ stories, fights and struggles. Times have changed. The basis of our union has changed with more women in predominantly male jobs; our union is growing into different sectors.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” Power and pride.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equality? The union offers huge support. Everybody’s equality is different – pay, education, jobs. You ask for what you need and Women of Steel will give it to you.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Strong

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? My phone

meggrName: Meg Grimes

Local #: 4120

Hometown: Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Employer: The Univeristy of Guelph

Job title: Awards and Agreements Officer

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? My first was the District 6 Women’s Conference last July.

What are you most looking forward to? I'm looking forward to meeting women organizing in female-dominated workplaces, and I’m interested in meeting women from the U.S. who are working on internal organizing.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It makes me feel very proud and powerful. I feel that when I give my opinion, that I’m listened to within the organization. It gives me a voice.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equality? It’s the fact that our union is growing in female-dominated workplaces – universities, education, health care. It’s giving credence to the fact that women’s labour should be valued and women should be paid appropriately for what they do.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Caring

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? My phone


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