Recommendation 2 - Supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ Workers

Canada, a country known for diversity and acceptance, has seen renewed attacks on members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Despite a certain amount of progress, discrimination, mental health challenges, healthcare disparities, bullying, and homelessness persist for 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

Fortunately, there is much that local unions can do, through the power of collective action and solidarity, to increase the support and protections of Unifor 2SLGBTQIA+ members.

Conducting equity audits of collective agreements and membership is an exercise that provides valuable insights on how to create inclusive workplaces. This includes identifying disparities, amending agreements to ensure an equitable treatment, engaging 2SLGBTQIA+ members, promoting diversity initiatives, advocating for social justice, and fostering stronger allyship. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion sets a powerful example for an equitable society.

Protecting healthcare access for queer and trans individuals is crucial for their well-being. It addresses historical discrimination, safeguards against service delisting, supports mental health and fosters a healthy and inclusive work environment. Including such protection aligns with our union's core values of equality and social justice, promoting the health of LGBTQIA+ members and creating an inclusive workplace.

Inspired by the Unifor Women's Advocate and Racial Justice Advocate positions, this recommendation addresses challenges faced by 2SLGBTQIA+ members and suggests the exploration of a new advocate position. The Advocate would provide vital support and ensure voices of the 2SLGBTQIA+ membership are heard. Responsibilities include promoting inclusivity, collaborating with leadership on anti-discrimination action plans, and fostering external partnerships.

The 2SLGBTQIA+ Advocate should receive the necessary time and resources to enable effective advocacy. This role showcases our commitment to an inclusive workplace, empowering all employees. I urge bargaining committees to consider adopting this position to advance diversity, equality, and member rights.

Unions have traditionally tackled issues facing certain communities through multiple fronts, including through issue-based campaigns and through securing gains in collective bargaining. In the face of increased attacks on  2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, I am calling on Unifor Local Unions to step up their activity to support the community and ensure safe, welcoming and proud workplaces for everyone.

As Unifor National President, I recommend local unions:

  • Launch an equity audit of the collective agreements and membership and to work actively to identify disparities in protection and benefits for 2SLGBTQIA+ members, ensuring inclusive bargaining proposals.
  • Bargain healthcare access protection in collective agreements and to safeguard rights to essential healthcare services, protecting against potential government delisting.
  • Bargain a 2SLGBTQIA+ Advocate role that would allow the local to address challenges, promote equality, and create inclusive workplaces for queer and trans members.