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Employment Equity

Unifor Local 200 Employment Equity Representatives

Ford - Jacqui Cardillo - 944-9333

Nemak WAP - Toni Valley - TBA

POLICY LETTER - NATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD

Letter No. 16 - May 22, 1996 AMENDED HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

 

Greetings:

The National Executive Board, at its meeting on May 11, 1996, adopted as amended the following policy regarding "Harassment in the Workplace". I would ask each and every local union to circulate this policy throughout the workplace, display on their union bulletin boards and have it published in their local union newspapers.

We will need the cooperation of all local union leadership to help create a workplace environment free of harassment.

HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

Harassment is not a joke. It is cruel and destructive behaviour against others that can have devastating effects. Harassment, by co-workers in particular, is contrary to our basic union principles of solidarity and equality.

It is an expression of perceived power and superiority by the harasser(s) over another person, usually for reasons over which the victim has little or no control: sex, race, age, creed, colour, marital status, sexual preference, disability, political or religious affiliation, or place of national origin.

Harassment on any of these grounds can be made the basis of a complaint to most provincial and federal human rights commissions.

Harassment can be defined as any unwelcome action by any person, in particular, by management, customer or client and or a co-workers, whether verbal or physical, on a single or repeated basis, which humiliates, insults or degrades.

"Unwelcome" or "unwanted" in this context means any actions which the harasser knows or ought reasonably to know are not desired by the victim of the harassment.

Sexual harassment is any unwanted attention of a sexual nature, such as remarks about appearance or personal life, offensive written or visual actions, like graffiti or degrading pictures, physical contact of any kind, or sexual demands.

Racial harassment is any action, whether verbal or physical that expresses or promotes racial hatred in the workplace such as racial slurs, written or visually offensive actions, jokes or other unwanted comments or acts.

By pitting certain groups of workers, such as women or ethnic minorities, against others, harassment creates a climate of intolerance and division among the membership. By eroding our unity and strength, it can weaken our effectiveness at the bargaining table or on a picket line.

It is the responsibility of management to ensure that the workplace is free of harassment. But just leaving the issue up to management is not good enough.

Our goal as a union must be to help create a workplace environment free of harassment. That means not only dealing with complaints when they arise, but also watching for instances of harassment and confronting the source.

The role of the local union is crucial in combatting harassment. If a worker believes that he or she is being harassed at work and wants help, the incident must be brought to the immediate attention of the unit chairperson and the local union president.

The experience of harassment can be overwhelming for the victim. People often react with shock, humiliation and intense anger. Therefore, the victim of harassment may not always feel comfortable going through the normal channels for resolving such a problem.

Because of the sensitive, personal nature of harassment complaints, especially racial and sexual harassment, the victim may prefer initially to seek other assistance. This could be any local union elected person of official, including members of the women's committee, human rights committee and affirmative action committee. This person could assist the harassment victim in bringing the incident(s) to the attention of the top local union leadership.

The local union president and the unit chairperson must contact the Unifor national representative, and if necessary, they will meet with a senior company representative(s) to carry out an investigation. The issue must be handled with confidentiality, and is to be resolved within 10 working days of notifying the unit chairperson and local union president. An extension to the ten day time limit may be granted with written request to the National President's office.

The national representative must notify the Unifor national office about the complaint and its resolution.

Any resolution of a harassment complaint must reflect the serious nature of such acts, and send a clear signal that they will not be tolerated.