Where Are The Women In CUPE?
The chant of “Where are the women” echoed through the halls of the Winnipeg Convention Centre 14 years ago this month. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) had just elected their new Executive Board after 12 years of being led by Sister Judy D’Arcy. As the new Board members strode up the aisles towards the podium, delegates were astounded to see so few women marching toward the swearing in. Including the two highest officers who were male, only three women out of a total of 22 were about to join the Board. The Executive Board of CUPE National had just gone from gender equity – 50% women – to 13% women. Delegates were crushed.
That was only the beginning of the disillusionment of women in CUPE. Shortly after taking office, new President Paul Moist knew that CUPE women were angry, especially since women make up almost 70% of the union’s membership.