Treaty One Territory, Metis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - Women who say they were mistreated, discriminated, bullied, harassed and intimidated in Winnipeg's Labour Movement, have come forward to add their voices to the Manitoba Liberals' call for an independent judicial inquiry into abusive behaviour in some of Manitoba's Unions.
One of those women is Sherlynn Delaney, who is a First Nation, Indigenous woman and daughter of a Residential school survivor.
When Delaney filed a complaint against her boss for making an offensive discriminatory remark, she was retaliated against, becoming a target of further bullying and harassing behaviour.
An investigation took place, which she says was fatally flawed from the onset; subordinates to the boss were tasked to conduct an investigation, which created an irreconcilable conflict of interest.
Ultimately Delaney was terminated.
"The appropriate test of whether or not an Employer has taken reasonable steps to eliminate harassment in the workplace is set out in Jones v. Amway of Canada Ltd. (2001, Ontario Board of Inquiry)," said Delaney.
In Jones, the complainant filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission alleging a supervisor had harassed her during her employment and she was terminated as a reprisal for making a complaint. The board set forth a six-part test to determine whether or not an Employer had taken reasonable steps to terminate harassment. The Employer must establish that;
1. It is aware that sexual harassment is prohibited; (Delaney believes this can be applicable to any form of harassment).
2. A complaint mechanism is in place;
3. It acted with alacrity in handling the complaint;
4. It dealt with the matter seriously;
5. It met its obligation to provide a healthy work environment; and
6. It met its obligation to inform the complainant of its response.
It's not the only example. Manitoba Liberals say they know of dozens of similar stories, including many more serious offences - women being forced to sleep with managers, sexual assaults and other outright crimes.
When women tried to report sexual assaults, they were told to keep quiet, bullied, or paid hush money. In several instances, assailants were promoted, while the people they hurt paid the price.
In early May 2021, a Rank and File union member sent a request to a number of MLAs. The email asked whether MLAs would support a call for a " wide-ranging" investigation after the January 2021 arrest of CUPE Manitoba President Abe Araya, and the removal of the entire CUPE Manitoba Executive.
Only Manitoba Liberals wrote back, and called for an inquiry on May 6, 2021 based on the complaint and a number of further cases.
Since then, more individuals have come forward, pleading for an inquiry to take place so they can tell their stories and justice can be done.
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the inquiry is desperately needed. He said he hoped the new President of the Canadian Labour Congress, Bea Bruske, would recognize the need for change.
"Really terrible abuses are being swept under the rug in the name of 'loyalty' or 'the cause.' But the people being abused are part of that cause, and they are being betrayed," said Lamont. "You have people being attacked, threatened, and they are being told to shut up for their own good so it doesn't affect the next contract or the next election. That's not protecting workers, it's protecting predators.