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March 3, 2009

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Celebrating and taking stock on International Women’s Day

BURNABY—Each year as March 8 – International Women’s Day – arrives, we celebrate our victories, take stock of where we are, and strategize about where we need to go.

It was fitting that a month before International Women’s Day 2009, CUPE held a very successful National Women’s Bargaining Conference. Themed Setting the Table: Bargaining Women’s Equality. The conference brought together 500 sisters and brothers to work towards building bargaining strength to advance women’s equality and to set achievable bargaining goals on issues for women.

CUPE BC Women’s Committee Chair Deb Taylor says that the conference was an important recommendation arising from the National Women’s Task Force report to the 2007 CUPE National Convention.“It was a motivating experience. CUPE sisters told stories about gains their locals had made in bargaining women’s equality and we heard from a number of inspiring speakers,” says Taylor.

Participants heard from Gloria Mills, the former head of Britain's Trades Union Congress, Canadian economist Armine Yalnizyan, Darline Raymond, coordinator of Action travail des femmes in Montreal, and the HEU’s Judy Darcy (past president of CUPE).

And bargaining will be a key issue for women in CUPE this year – with most of the B.C. public sector looking at collective agreements expiring in early 2010. Among the many issues CUPE women will be putting forward will be pay equity, child care and adequate leave to deal with family responsibilities.

CUPE BC’s Pay Equity Task Force has continued to work to raise awareness and provide information about this important issue. And CUPE BC’s Women’s Committee supports local and district level action and education, including the upcoming Connecting Northern Women's conference in Quesnel, hosted by the Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre.)

Among the many events that will be taking place to celebrate, advocate and raise awareness is the Women's Day Rally in support of a fair contract for the housekeepers and food services workers at Compass ( March 6 in Vancouver).

CUPE BC has also supported the Sistahood celebration – which features many cultural events including music, film and visual art.

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