·  Statement   ·  

Marty Warren Statement on International Women's Day

This International Women’s Day, we remember the remarkable achievements women have made over the decades in the march to full equality. But let’s also remember that the journey is not over yet.

Canadian women still take home, on average, only 73 cents for every dollar men earn, even though women as a group have more education than men. The gender pay gap varies across District 6. It’s the widest at 66 cents in Newfoundland and 68 cents in Ontario. New Brunswick is in the middle with a gap of 73 cents. And it’s the narrowest at 79 cents in Nova Scotia and 87 cents in Prince Edward Island. And we know that statistical averages hide the even greater pay gap that women of colour, Aboriginal women and women with disabilities experience.

The Ontario government has acknowledged the pay-gap problem by setting up the Ontario Gender Gap Strategy Steering Committee and inviting submissions. USW presented a thorough brief (available here), calling on the government to expand the law and improve monitoring and enforcement.

But the USW brief also points out the many other things government could do to narrow the wage gap and help women workers: A comprehensive system of affordable, quality public childcare would make a huge difference in the lives – and wallets – of working women and men. Increasing the minimum wage would help women workers immediately, since most minimum-wage earners are women. Changing the law to make it easier to join and organize a union would also put more money in women’s bank accounts, since union membership is one of the best guarantees of wage parity.

And unions like the United Steelworkers can do our part, too. Of course we pressure governments to enact progressive public policy, like pay equity laws and minimum-wage increases. But we can also act at the bargaining table. Local negotiating committees can knock down barriers that keep women in lower-paid classifications as well as push for measures that make it easier for working parents to balance full-time paid employment with family obligations.

Full equality is our goal, and let’s keep marching together!

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director

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