Ontario Federation of Labour Women’s Committee

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The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) Women’s Committee was formed in 1976. The Committee has been part of every hard-fought battle for equality. Members organized and mobilized strike support, demonstrations, civil disobedience, marches, and lobbies. Frontline issues were maternity leave, ending racist immigration policies, equal pay for work of equal value, family law reform, child care, full access to abortion and midwifery, an end to violence against women, lesbian and gay equality rights, and union recognition.

Two key “women strikes” Fleck (1978) and Radio Shack (1980) saw solidarity mobilization by unions and the broader women’s movement. These pivotal strikes and others were instrumental in pressuring Ontario’s Conservative government to give way and legislate union security as a part of the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

The Committee helped to found and sustain many new equality organizations such as the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the Equal Pay Coalition, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, and the pro-choice movement for abortion rights. OFL-sponsored conferences on “Sex Discrimination in Ontario” and “Bargaining for Equality” drew hundreds of delegates from across the province and produced hard-hitting campaigns. Equal pay for work of equal value became a central demand and urgent necessity. The OFL assisted the NDP which, inside the Legislature, challenged the Bill Davis Tories to stop “subsidizing the economy with women’s underpaid labour.”

The leadership role played by the OFL Women’s Committee was crucial to winning the first comprehensive labour affirmative action policy. Many unions and federations now have policies that designate seats on leadership bodies for women and other equity groups. In Canada, this process began in 1983 when the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) broke new ground by amending its constitution to create five executive board positions for affirmative action seats.

Carrol Anne Sceviour, Human Rights and Women’s Director, Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour Women’s Committee Documents

Title Date Region
A Century of Women And Work 1900-2000 2000andafter National (all of Canada)
Making Up the Difference: Ontario Women Speak Out – OFL Brief to Government of Ontario -- Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Affirmative Action Coalition Statement (1985) 1985 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Bill C-144 Submission – One in Four is Not Good Enough (1988) 1988 National (all of Canada)
Ontario Federation of Labour Brief to Ontario Government – Bill 154 Pay Equity Legislation (1987) 1987 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Brief to Special Parliamentary Committee on Child Care (1986) 1986 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Convention – Statement on Affirmative Action (1982) 1982 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Convention Document (1985) – Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value 1985 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Convention Document (1988) – Still a Long Way from Equality 1988 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Convention Document (1991) – Challenging Harassment 1991 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Convention Policy Paper (1978) – A Woman’s Place is in Her Union 1978 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Convention Statement (1980) – Day Care 1980 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Convention Statement (1987) – Equal Action in Employment 1987 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Convention Statement on Women (1975) 1975 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Making Up the Difference Campaign – Summary Brief (1984) 1984 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Making Up the Difference Campaign – Supplementary Statement (1985) 1985 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Parental Rights & Day Care Bargaining Guide (1982) 1982 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Submission on Workers and Family Responsibilities (1989) 1989 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Submission to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women (1968) 1968 National (all of Canada)
Ontario Federation of Labour Women’s Committee Report to Executive Board (1978) 1978 Ontario
Ontario Federation of Labour Women’s Committee Submission to NDP Task Force on Reproductive Hazards (1982) 1982 Ontario
Women’s Forum Agenda – Ontario Federation of Labour Convention 1980 1980 Ontario
Women’s Forum Agenda – Ontario Federation of Labour Convention 1988 1988 Ontario