chapter  7
34 Pages

Women Working towards Union Transformation

WithGERALDINE HEALY, MARY GATTA

Women work towards union transformation in multiple ways; some small ways which may affect only one woman, others which impact on many women, and other ways which affect the policies and practices of the workplace or the union. In this chapter, we draw on a number of ways that women employ to be transformative. First, we build on the section in Chapter 5 (this volume) where we highlight key features that women leaders in our study believe make a good union representative/shop steward, a role that has within it the potential for transformation. The heart and the strength of the union lies as much at the level of the local union representative as it does with the top level leader. Indeed, the local union representative is a crucial link in the chain of representative democracy discussed in Chapter 3 (this volume) and which frames much of union discourse. Articulating what makes a good steward does not necessarily describe what happens in practice. However, it does indicate the multiple perceptions of what we might call the idealized steward and using the literature, we assess how these perceptions fi t with bringing in a gendered union agenda.