April 11, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Toronto, Canada – Pearl Sawyer, President of UFCW Canada Local 1000A, has played a leading role in urging Premier Kathleen Wynne to recognize the government's fundamental role in making pay equity a reality for Ontario's workers. The Ontario government has now announced that it will recognize April 16 as Equal Pay Day.
UFCW Canada welcomes the announcement as an important step forward in the struggle for pay equity. Women workers continue to be paid less than men in many areas of the economy. Unionization remains the most effective method to achieving pay equity across the board.
As a leading voice for retail workers representing nearly 30,000 members across the province, Local 1000A has been an integral partner in the Equal Pay Coalition. During the past year, President Sawyer and union member activists have lobbied the Premier and MPPs to acknowledge that the pay gap must be eliminated. Working together with community groups, child care advocates, lawyers, academics and non-profit organizations, the Equal Pay Coalition can celebrate this victory as a significant way to broaden awareness and support for equal pay.
Historically, the labour movement was one of the first advocates for pay equity in Canadian society. Together with the women's movement, unions began making equal pay for work of equal value a key issue in collective bargaining – long before governments started to acknowledge its importance. Since the 1990s, UFCW Canada Local Unions, including Local 1000A, have continued to utilize collective bargaining to secure significant wage increases for members working in jobs that have been traditionally dominated by women.
"We will continue to fight for pay equity at the bargaining table, at the polls and in the streets," says Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada National President. "While we welcome the government's announcement, we still have a long way to go and it is crucial that government works with us to achieve pay equity for all of Ontario's workers."