Stepping Up to Stop Harassment

Photo of a woman with a placard: Stand with survivors


Speak Out. Speak Up. Believe Survivors.

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have revealed just how prevalent and pervasive sexual harassment is. More and more women are bravely coming forward with stories of sexual harassment by men in positions of power.

Why do we call these women ‘brave’? Because the least-common response to harassment (of any gender) is to report it.

Employees don’t report harassment because they fear they won’t be believed. They fear they will be blamed. They fear they will suffer retaliation or a setback in their work life. They fear alienation from co-workers.

Harassment and sexual harassment are union issues regardless of the complainants’ gender. While we must be sensitive to gender, women are almost four times as likely to have been harassed as men.

Our union has an anti-harassment policy. We are strong advocates for taking action to stop harassment. We are joining campaigns, partnering with allies and front-line community organizations. But we know this isn’t enough.

Let’s take this #MeToo #TimesUp moment as an opportunity to revisit and expand our policies.

We must talk about anti-harassment policies so our members know what to do if they or someone they know is experiencing harassment. Our union executive members and stewards should know what to do if someone comes forward. We must work to bring employer policies up to date.

Unions have a role in developing and enforcing strong policies to prevent and stop harassment. But we must also devote energy to being more supportive of those who come forward with experiences of harassment. We must find ways to offer emotional, psychological and moral support to members and staff complainants as we navigate the process involved in a complaint.

Women particularly, are feeling emboldened by the silence breaking that is happening in our society right now. Our union must be there for our members when they turn to us to tell their stories of harassment in the workplace. Survivors who come forward expect us to take action against harassment. Let’s make sure we are there for them and know what to do.

USW Is Updating our Anti-Harassment Policies

The USW National Office is revisiting our policies and guides to ensure we are following best practices and offering practical resources for preventing and dealing with harassment.

The USW is developing a training program for advocates who will be available to offer support and referrals to members in our workplaces experiencing harassment or domestic violence.

The USW is reviewing our Steelworkers Anti-Harassment Policy, the Yellow Sheet.

We are active in campaigns and initiatives with community partners on advocacy and education.

In the meantime, there are lots of resources and ideas for local union initiatives.

Anti-Harassment Resources

Know the Policies that Apply

In a unionized workplace, there are three places to look for anti-harassment policies:

  • Employer anti-harassment policies
  • Collective agreement
  • Provincial or territorial occupational health and safety laws or federal law in workplaces under federal jurisdiction

What Unions Can Do to End Harassment

  • Familiarize yourself with anti-harassment policies (employer policies, collective agreement, applicable laws).
  • Review employer policies against the checklist for workplace policies in the Steelworkers Guide to Preventing and Dealing with Harassment.
  • Work to strengthen employer and collective agreement policies through bargaining, side letters or through your joint health and safety committee.
  • Display the USW poster on sexual harassment in your workplace (available to download at www.usw.ca/womenofsteel.)
  • Have your local take the IndustriALL Pledge – Unions Say No To Violence: Not in our workplace, not in our union.
  • Discuss this article with your USW Staff Representative and make an action plan.
  • Promote and sign up for USW courses on harassment prevention and investigation.
  • Partner with organizations working to end sexual harassment and violence against women.

Press Inquiries

Thank You

Thank you for contacting us. We will try to get back to you in a timely manner.

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Bob Gallagher
bgallagher@usw.ca
416-544-5966 or
416-434-2221

Communications Department:
Karina Midence
communications@usw.ca
416-544-5991 

Communications Department - Québec
Clairandrée Cauchy
ccauchy@metallos.ca
514-774-4001 

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
234 Eglinton Ave. E., 8th Floor
Toronto, ON M4P 1K7