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Ricardo de Menezes [AI Text]

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Um, I'm from Calgary, Alberta, In Canada. Uh, I work for the United Food and Commercial Workers. We're a private sector trade union in Canada. And, um, I work as a staff representative, and I represent about 1500 employees in Calgary. Uh, I also have the GB LT liaison. I'm a human rights advocate for the local. So what I do is I I investigate human rights concerns and complaints in our province and try and help people if they choose to go to the Human Rights Commission with it, try and help them with the information. And I've been fitted with the task of, um working with, uh, GB LT issues because our union is really trying to get [00:00:30] into the community support aspect of GB LT um, community and, uh, especially with rights in the workplace, because everyone does have to work, no matter what, uh, path of life, we walk and, um, GB LT issues is a strong one. Even though it's protected under the law, it's not protected always at work, and the private sector has been really lacking in protecting people's rights at work. So, um, I do that as in respect of I also work with temporary foreign workers and migrant workers in Canada as well. So so what are some of the the major issues that are cropping up that you're funding? Uh, mostly, it's a discrimination in the [00:01:00] workplace, the rights to promotions and the rights to to a free A workplace free of harassment, especially with transgender individuals. And, uh, GB, especially gay and lesbian don't have it as much anymore. But in the private sector in the building trade in a more, uh, more hetero sexist environment. They they suffer the most, um, but the transgender suffer the most, um, across the board. So we we advocate towards getting gender expression and gender equality into our collective agreements, um, to ensure that employers are held accountable for discrimination in the workplace as well as, um, um, [00:01:30] the discrimination that, uh, stems from, uh, coworkers as well. Is it easy to prove discrimination? No, not at all. Um, the first thing that has to be done is the person has to come forward to me to say they've been discriminated against. And then they have to openly write statements and and file formal complaints with their employer, which essentially, uh, puts a target on their back, so it takes a lot of courage for them to do that. So that's why I have to be the advocate and come forward and say that the union is a safe place. If the employer is in a safe place or your coworkers are not safe places for you, the union will help you, right, And we will protect [00:02:00] you if any further discrimination comes forward. But it's just getting that first step into the comfort that I try to advocate for. So what kind of percentage would it between, you know, discrimination and actual cases that go ahead. What? What is that? I would say less than 5 to 10% of people would come forward with me. Yeah, um, employers are really proactive. Now when it comes to GB LT issues and discrimination, it's something they don't really want to see in publicly. Um, it's unfortunate that sometimes we have to push that whole threat of media and public, uh, stuff [00:02:30] like that against them, but they really don't like that. So, um, the problem is that the transgender issues aren't really openly accepted in in society as well. So it's even more difficult for us to threaten public action. So we have to just work work within the framework of law and and that's that's the most difficult part. But it's still a challenge that I like to take. Yet do you think it's getting harder or easier? It is getting easier. Society is becoming more progressive and society is becoming more accepting. But it's just a question of, um, we like things to go a lot faster than they're actually going. And so we have to try and push those comfort levels of people [00:03:00] and push those boundaries for people to to try and realise that it's it's not, uh, it's just a person here who's here to work and earn a wage and pay the bills and get the economy going like everyone else. So, yeah, attending these conferences what what? What do they mean to you? They mean, uh, networking for most, uh, for first and foremost is networking. Um, when I attended Copenhagen in 2009 and and and now I like to know what other people in the same field or even in the same um who who have the same challenge as me are doing? Um, it's very interesting to hear what [00:03:30] they're doing worldwide so we can take that whole thing to Canada because Canada in and of itself is, uh, a spectrum of, uh, of different laws and different acceptance and tolerances from nation to province to province. So to hear what they're doing. And so I can take things back to our national body, we can do a national programme. Uh, not just one for the province of Alberta as well. So it always seems to me it's quite hard to kind of keep the momentum of what happens at a conference going, uh, later down the track. I mean, do you have any ideas about how to how to take the words here and actually turn them into actions? Yeah, well, you know, the first thing we can do [00:04:00] is provide the information to all the unions that advocate for them to change their own internal organ. That's the first thing unions have to do is if you want to change your environment, is to clean up your own backyard, right. So to change our own constitutions and our own bylaws to have gender expression, gender equality and then to get them all out into the community to do that. So, uh, actually, this year is the first year that, um, my union and our national body, which represents about 350,000 people across Canada, we are attending every pride parade in Canada. Um, this year So that's the first thing we're doing is that community action network thing. And now we're gonna start through negotiations forcing employers to start [00:04:30] recognising gender equality, gender expression in the collective agreement. So that's my first step, um, to to keep the momentum going. And you know, the more ideas you get, especially from the European Trade Union Commission. And and and now I want to try and learn from Asia Pacific as well, especially because transgender issues are huge in the Pacific region as well. So it's a good thing to learn. Yeah, pride, parades and pride festivals are really interesting. Can you talk about, um, just visibility? What? What's the importance of that visibility is is that, um if you have a float down there that says UFCW, somebody may be working in our workplaces that knows [00:05:00] and sees UFCW but doesn't make that connection to that being their union. And if we can be out there in the streets giving up pamphlets giving out any sort of, uh, propaganda or any sort of even it's a pin saying UFCW your rights in the workplace. They'll put that to two together. So now does it work as a as a catalyst and as a tool to to organise and bring the comfort levels on side to the union for the people that already work in our workplaces that don't put two and two together. But it also acts as a catalyst towards getting more people interested in what a union can do for them in their workplace. Right, Because if we're out there and we're saying that we protect your [00:05:30] rights at work and they'll say, What can a union do for me? So community action is really our best way to be on the front lines of battling whatever we can in the workplace. Yeah, if we look into the future, say, 30 years time and somebody is listening back to this, what would be the thing that you would say to them? Well, hopefully the the Union density will have increased right and we can hopefully have our first, uh, either transgendered worker of colour, uh, female, uh, sitting in the top echelons of power. Right? And that's what we look to get right? Because, as I said before, everyone works. And hopefully [00:06:00] we can get to a point where where your sexuality and your gender identity don't matter, and you can just work right and be someone that operates in everyday of society and not have to worry about being discriminated against, right? My goal is to not only have GB LT people, um, to be that person next to you on the bus that you sit next to you without having to care or know, but also to be those people that that that hold those upper echelons of power and hold those positions of power and can be a great influence in society as well. Right? Georgina Baker here in New Zealand is a great example of what can be done right worldwide. So [00:06:30] yeah, it's good. It's very good.

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AI Text:September 2023