Equity – How does it feel, smell or look?

By Don Chigede, USJE Equity Committee member

Many of us have heard of this word and maybe wondered what it implies and who it affects. Well, we are happy to invite you to join us on a journey that you have been a part of for many years.

History tells us that our union was born out of the struggles of many individuals. These struggles continue to be the fabric of what joins us together. USJE was founded upon the great pillar of equity while celebrating our differences. Over the years, we have made some remarkable strides, but, sadly, there continues to be more work that needs to be done.

Our National Equity Committee has been at work educating our members and the employer on the legal and moral obligations we have around preserving the dignity of each and every person. On many occasions, we are reminded by many of our members about how they are prevented from enjoying some of the basic fundamental human rights – the dignity to be who they are as a person regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Our union rose in solidarity and challenged oppressive policies, and, today, we can celebrate the small yet vital victories for inclusion.

Equal pay for work of equitable value, “I am because we are”, is the spirit that strengthens our solidarity. The National Equity Committee continues to educate and advocate for long overdue Pay Equity in Canada. To this day, we are still fighting for pay equity to be resolved, from the broken Phoenix pay system to gender, racial, religious and age-biased compensation.

As our membership continues to grow, we are confronted with unforgiving challenges of accessibility with limiting ergonomic work spaces for injured veterans, for example, and for others with mobility limitations. Many of these issues do not exempt any of us from some form of mental stress.

Our National Equity Committee has been actively championing, through education and support, those of us who, not only experiencing mental stress, but have to permanently live with mental illness.

Each day we are reminded of this by many of our co-workers who, day-in and day-out, can no longer enjoy the simplest of things in life due to their mental health challenges. Some of our members have been subjected to mental health stressors just because they were born with a different color of skin, practice a different religion, speak a different language, live on a Reserve/Territory, are a victim of Residential Schools, who were born outside of Canada or choose to dress differently from others. Equity is what unites us all. Equity is our solidarity. Equity is the fabric of our union, USJE, and above all, EQUITY is our Canada.