Six years is a long time. And yet it’s not.
6 years is how long I’ve been away from WA United Voice, before returning recently and being privileged to receive an appointment to the position of Assistant Secretary.
14 years ago I was an educator in an early learning centre in the northern suburbs of Perth. My first union campaign was my own.
My inspiring workmates and I struggled through a bitter and scary dispute with our boss as we fought back against wage underpayments, discrimination, and bullying.
We were small, but we fought big.
I experienced firsthand how empowering it was to discover my voice had value, to discover my actions made a difference, and discover the strength of the sisterhood.
I was hooked. And now all I ever want to do is help improve the lives of workers and their families, and create more just and humane communities.
This fire in the belly – and a healthy dose of ambition and adventure – led me to the United States labor movement.
It doesn’t get much more brutal for workers than in the “land of the free, home of the brave”! We often joked that the truth was actually “land of the greed, home of the slave.”
I worked with a powerhouse union on different community campaigns, political campaigns, and union campaigns.
Personally, it was a game changer. I proudly stood next to workers earning $7.25 an hour as they protested in the snow, for days, in the fight for a living wage.They got no sick days, no annual leave, no paternity leave, no job security and no respect.
Their economy was broken and the system was rigged against them. It was heartbreaking and inspiring in equal measure.
Eventually the United States and Australian parallels became far too obvious.
I watched from abroad as conservative governments in Australia continued to attack workers’ rights, privatise and defund essential services like health and education, and fail to act on issues like marriage equality, renewable energy technologies, and the gender pay gap.
Australia could not become America. I would not stand for it. I could not stand for it.
This is where I want to put our attention.
- Respect and dignity at work.
- Pay and conditions that take you forward.
- Retirement security.
- Electing governments that work for all of us.
I hope to use my position to help take United Voice to a new level.