From its very inception, LiUNA has recognized and depended upon the hard work and leadership of immigrants and persons of diverse religious faiths. LiUNA was formed in 1903 when 23 independent local Laborers’ Unions joined together to form the International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers’ Union. The first Convention held in Washington, D.C., was attended by 25 delegates from 23 Local Unions in 17 cities, representing 8,186 Laborers. Those delegates elected Herman Lilien, a Belgian immigrant from Chicago Local Union 4, as General President. They adopted the first Constitution of our Union which was published in three languages: English, German and Italian.
Liuna is a Union which continues to pride itself on equity, diversity, and inclusion. With each new wave of immigration, the make-up of our membership has changed. Southern Ontario is now more ethnically and religiously diverse than at any time in the past. Our population now includes more women than men, and women are increasingly taking on jobs in construction and other sectors represented by Local 183. Our local union membership continues to change and reflects the diversity of our communities; and we are much stronger for it.
We cannot simply rest on our past accomplishments. Our continued growth and future success requires that we build upon this strong foundation, and continue to welcome all workers into our Union. Employers need workers who are willing to put in an honest day’s work in exchange for the pay and benefits promised by our collective agreements. A worker should be measured based upon their ability to work, and willingness to learn, and not upon age, gender, race, religion, place of origin, or other irrelevant factors. We all have a role to play in continuing make our workplaces and our Union diverse, equitable and welcoming.
Steps being taken by Local 183
A whole newsletter could be written on the steps being taken by this Executive Board and Local 183 to build a more diverse and inclusive membership. Recent highlights include:
- Territorial Acknowledgements You will have noticed that Local 183 meetings are now commencing with a territorial land acknowledgment. We make these acknowledgments as part of the commitments made by LiUNA in ceremonially signing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Local 183 also recognizes and respects the findings of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission’s calls to action.
- Lead Charter Local 183 has adopted the LEAD Charter of Inclusion and Diversity which is reproduced below. A copy of the LEAD Charter is being printed on the inside cover of the 2022-2025 construction industry collective agreements.
- Women in the Trades Local 183, along with the LIUNA OPDC and other LIUNA Local unions, is championing the recruitment and placement of women in construction. LIUNA has partnered with Aecon in its Aecon Women in Trades program, through which the Local 183 Training Centre provides women with Construction Craft Worker training prior to them starting jobs with Aecon.
- EDI Training Local 183 has engaged Harmony Movement to provide Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Training to its Executive Board and Business Representatives. Those training sessions occurred in January and February 2023. The LEAD Charter and EDI Training will form part of the training curriculum for the Construction Stewards and Industrial Stewards at their seminars being held in March and April 2023. The Training Centre has also partnered with Harmony Movement and has developed an EDI component for the training of new apprentices.
Steps being taken by each member
- Starting a new job can be tough. It can be particularly tough if you don’t feel welcome, or if you are made to feel different. Each member of Local 183, on every job site across the geographic jurisdiction of our union, has a role to play in making sure that every new member is welcomed on the job site and treated with dignity and respect.
- Be a mentor. If you can – help, guide and teach.
- Be respectful, and welcoming. Think about how you would like your child to be treated at their new job. Help the new worker understand the site: tell them where they have lunch; where the toilet is; etc; and give them a chance to prove themselves.
- Don’t discriminate. Abide by the Union’s ByLaws and the LEAD! Charter.
- If you see something, say something.