OUW Committee for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
To build an inclusive OrganizeUW where human rights are built into everything we do, including in how we operate our current drive and what we plan for our future union local. By focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion we hope to make our spaces open, diverse, fair, equitable, representative, and ultimately "incompatible" with white supremacy and patriarchy. Only by ensuring full, meaningful, and equitable chances for everyone to participate in our grassroots group can we hope to build a successful union movement that will truly improve the lives of everyone at UW.
Principles and Goals
Work together and support one other: to help and support one another in a committee group that is humble, open-minded, respectful, kind, collaborative, and patient, i.e. we will learn from, and with, one another. Anti-racism and equity discussion are often difficult, emotional, and/or fraught. Open communication, caring, and teamwork are key to ensuring a positive committee culture.
Put safety first and centre diverse voices: to actively listen to, respect, and be open to hearing about peoples’ lived experiences, areas of expertise, and viewpoints, especially those of committee members who have less privileged positions. We will do our best to make their voices central in all the work we do in the committee in all areas. More privileged members will do our best to marshal our privilege(s) to support organizers, students, and sessionals with less privilege whenever we can. E.g. we'll do what needs to be done to protect anyone who may face an increased risk from publicly supporting the union drive. We'll also establish a structure early on in regards to safe ways to report any occurrences of harassment or discrimination at OrganizeUW.
Share resources and have open discussions: to provide a safe space for students in OUW from all groups to come together and ask questions, share information, and get support in a non-judgmental and safe environment. We will build our individual and collective knowledge for organizers to educate them, work to be accountable, and reduce reliance on marginalized people to "do the work" of educating privileged people on anti-racism and equity. We'll make use of the many excellent resources at our disposal to learn, grow, and better understand the key aspects, principles, and best practices of undertaking anti-racism and equity work in a group like ours. The following is a list of documents produced by CUPE relating to union equity issues. This list is not exhaustive:
Reflect on the Drive to date with a critical eye: to collaboratively examine and honestly reflect on our current and past practices, policies, activities, and structures in OUW (as well as any already planned for the future); identify issues, barriers to participation, past mistakes, and areas for improvement; and finally work to remedy said issues, eliminate or reduce the barriers; acknowledge and try to redress any wrongs (as much as possible, including a plan to prevent recurrence), and make concrete improvements in identified areas of need. We will implement best practices and continuously question how our work is progressing and what we can do to improve (in spite of, and likely because of, the inevitable missteps that will occur along the way).
Collect individual workplace issues: to collect and document issues facing students/sessionals at UW that we hear/have heard from various individuals in card-signing conversations, at webinars, or via other communication channels, as well as seeking out perspectives from campus advocacy groups who are already doing equity work and have written/spoken publicly about their experiences. Safety and privacy are of the utmost importance to us. This is the reason why we have chosen to partner with actors with whom we have built a relationship of trust to manage the stories that are shared with us. Our collaborators have journalistic training and professional experience on how to properly protect the identity and privacy of individuals. We know that when it comes to speaking with people in marginalized and precarious positions, this is vital.
Build community, solidarity, and momentum: to be an active member in the UW campus community, especially building relationships of trust, respect, and solidarity over time with student groups from all areas. This includes reaching out to learn about their experiences and perspectives, supporting their existing equity work (if applicable), participating in their events, offering support to them whenever we can, and generally building goodwill across campus.
Research current equity situation: to examine any/all existing research and data that we can find on the situation of different groups at UW, e.g. where the biggest disparities lie (especially related to grad students), to make sure our advocacy is informed by both lived experiences (see #1-3,5 above) as well as data/research, which might bring unexpected results and thereby help check unconscious assumptions, biases, or misunderstandings. Gaining a more nuanced and fully-rounded, evidence-backed view of what we know (and don't know!) about the situation, will help us form a plan for how our future local will address key issues.
Develop a plan for our local to “hit the ground running”: to identify how a local (a union chapter within UW) can help with the individual workplace issues and systemic inequities identified above and develop proposals, suggestions, and background information to make sure our work “lives on” in the new local. If by the time of the unionization vote occurs we've succeeded in our goal of authentically engaging with people from diverse groups and making the drive more inclusive and representative, then we should have a very good understanding of the main issues that could form a priority in bargaining and structuring our local, and therefore we'll be able to more quickly get “up and running” and effectively advocating for our members/workers on real issues that impact/matter to them.
Ensure our local stays inclusive going forward: to make sure we do the background work starting now so that our new local is on solid ground after the unionization vote in case there is an influx of new people who want to join/serve the local (whether as elected representatives, volunteers, or stewards, or on committees). Having a solid “culture of inclusiveness”, shared set of values, and clear expectations for respectful conduct (and accountability) already entrenched should help ensure a smooth transition from informal student group to formalized local. This way we can continue to equitably centre the needs and priorities of students from diverse backgrounds, while also providing a framework for successfully integrating new people into a safe and welcoming environment for all.