Messages from your President & Secretary-Treasurer

Shawn Haggerty, President

Union Power is worker power

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council has called 2023 the Year of the Union. Working people and Unions are demanding more, demanding better. They are demanding fair. 

And it has been a powerful year for unionized workers as we’ve seen, both here in Canada and across the U.S., Union members go on major strikes. The power that comes with being a Unionized worker also builds strength from the day-to-day vigilance of your Union Stewards, Health & Safety Committees, and co-workers.

Your power also comes from collective bargaining, standing together, united to achieve good improvements in a binding agreement. Your power comes from raising your voices and standing up when something isn’t right – whether it’s at work or in your community.

Some of the challenges facing working people do seem insurmountable. But that’s when we need to remember our power. And we need to remember that together, our collective power can move those mountains and create a better life for working people.

This Local Union will continue defending the interests of our members through every avenue possible. That means achieving good, strong collective agreements across every sector and industry. It means pursuing grievances, arbitrations, and other legal avenues to enforce and fight for our members’ rights.

Your Union will continue to provide members with opportunities for training and to get more involved in leadership roles in the workplace as Stewards and Health & Safety members. We will continue to provide support, instruction, and information that is relevant to the day-to-day working lives of our members. It will also remain a priority of this Local Union to lobby every level of government to enact better labour laws, enhanced workers’ rights, health and safety protections, and more.

Our Local wouldn’t be as strong as it is without the support of your Executive Board, whose invaluable feedback and guidance helps us chart a path forward through any obstacles.

I welcome Local 633 President Brian Kozlowski and Recorder Rita-Lynn Swiderski to their new acclaimed roles, and welcome back Julie MacCrae who will serve another acclaimed term as Local 633 Secretary-Treasurer. And congratulations to all of our new and returning Executive Board members of both Local Unions.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your President for another term alongside Secretary-Treasurer Tosato, Recorder Karen Vaughan, and Vice-Pres-ident Jim McLean. Your support and confidence allow our Union to grow and remain strong. 

I look forward to continuing to work in the best interests of the members and working people across this province alongside the Officers and Executive Board of UFCW Locals 175 & 633. The next four years will no doubt bring new challenges, but I am confident we will also experience victories and progress in the fight to enhance and protect the rights of working people.

In Solidarity,
Shawn Haggerty

Kelly Tosato, Secretary-Treasurer

Marking the 31st anniversary of Women’s History Month

This is the 31st anniversary of Women’s History Month in Canada. And while there is progress to celebrate, gender-based inequities and discrimination remain major issues around the world.

Important changes to the Canada Labour Code, which take effect on December 15, 2023, will make it mandatory for federally regulated employers to make menstrual products available to employees at no charge. This change recognizes that menstrual products are a basic need, and these products will be available to all employees who menstruate “including cisgender women, trans- gender men, non-binary individuals, and intersex individuals.” [1]

Period Poverty is when someone’s income is too low to afford or access menstrual products. While this legislation is a good step toward creating more inclusive, equitable workplaces, Canada lags behind other countries in the fight to end Period Poverty. In Scotland, for example, period products were made free to all students in 2018. And in 2022, period products became free for all.

Your Union believes that this is an important step in building a more equitable world. Going forward, it is our goal to try and bargain this type of language into your collective agreements.

With a cost of living that is out of step with the income of many people, providing these products at no charge is a significant step toward alleviating worry about being able to afford these basic necessities. An added burden to the rising cost of living is the ongoing gender pay gap in this country and around the world. It is a major barrier to equality.

The average pay gap for women in Ontario is 29.3%, but all women don’t experience the same gap. For racialized women, that gap is 38%. For immigrant women, 34%. And for women with disabilities, the gap is a staggering 56%. [2] In a 2020 study by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, only 25% of respondents who identified as 2SLGBTQIA+ reported being paid equally to their peers. [3]

Being a Union member goes a long way to helping bridge in- equality, and your Pay Equity department continues its hard work ensuring employers are abiding by Ontario’s Pay Equity laws.

But we must all continue to be vigilant and informed. And we must always make sure that our advocacy is conscious of and driven by how identities can overlap and connect.

Thank you to all of the members for your continued support over the years. And I congratulate our new and returning Executive Board members as we look toward another term of serving the members of this Local Union. Your Executive Board is a dedicated group of members who I know will continue to provide their experience-driven insight to us as we face whatever challenges may lie ahead.

It is an honour to work on your behalf as Secretary-Treasurer. As Officers of this Union, I, President Haggerty, Karen Vaughan, and Jim McLean, all take our responsibilities to heart. Rest assured that we will continue to put the well-being of our members at the forefront of our decisions.

In Solidarity,
Kelly Tosato


1 Canada, E. and S. D. (2023, May 10). Canada labour code to ensure access to menstrual products at work starting December 15.

2 Gender pay gaps graphics. Equal Pay Coalition. (n.d.).

3 Until all of us have made it. Canadian Women’s Foundation. (2020, March). (page 9)