Every February, CUPE Ontario urges all its members to acknowledge and celebrate Black History Month. We also invite our members to reflect on the many contributions Black people of African and Caribbean heritage have made to Canada and our union movement.
Black workers have a long history of building the Canadian labour movement and fighting for social change. Through their activism and leadership, Black trade unionists in Canada have organized to pass laws and win collective agreement language that fights racism and promotes equality in our workplaces and communities. This fight is far from over.
Studies show that Black Canadians still face disproportionate barriers in our society. Black Canadian workers remain over-represented in precarious, temporary and low-wage employment. The average Black Canadian worker currently earns 75.7 cents for every dollar a non-racialized worker earns, with racialized women facing an even higher wage gap of 36.8%. Black people in Canada also continue to face racial profiling by police.
At CUPE Ontario, we are committed to fighting against anti-Black racism experienced by our members and for the communities we serve. At the 2017 Racial Justice Conference, CUPE Ontario announced the beginning of a comprehensive Campaign to Counter rising hate and white supremacy in Ontario, as a major part of our collective work. We’re so proud of the activism demonstrated by CUPE members across the province every day in our workplaces and communities. It’s thanks to their hard work that we have seen the creation of an Anti-Black Racism Strategy, a commitment outlined in A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, released last year.
We support the work of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). CUPE Ontario’s Second Vice-President Sister Yolanda McClean, does a lot of great work as the President of the CBTU’s Canadian chapter, and we are very proud that she was the recent recipient of the Cliff Pilkey award for outstanding contribution to the labour movement at the Ontario Federation of Labour Convention.
Together with community organizations and coalitions, the CUPE Ontario Racial Justice Committee continues to fight for equity and to challenge racism, including organizing a strong annual presence at Toronto’s Carnival. The annual festival, which began on Canada’s 100th Birthday, is an emancipation tradition with roots of struggle and resistance.
During Black History Month and all year long, CUPE Ontario remains dedicated celebrating the essential and fundamentally important contributions of black Canadians to the social fabric of our country, and to fighting social and systemic discrimination in our communities, our workplaces, in CUPE and the rest of the labour movement.