Workers at NSWP member organisation Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project became the newest members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in September. The CUPE is Canada’s largest union, with 700,000 members across the country. Maggie’s and the CUPE released a joint statement to celebrate this milestone, which can be read below or on the Maggie’s website.
“This is a historic moment for Maggie’s and the broader sex worker justice movement,” said the Maggie’s employees who led the union organising campaign.
“We are proud to assert our rights and are ready to set an industry-wide standard where those most marginalised in the workplace will be afforded key supports. Unionising at Maggie’s recognises that the agency’s founding principles of dignity, justice and security for sex workers must also apply to staff on the frontlines of community support work.
This is especially crucial for queer and trans, Black, Indigenous, and sex workers of colour at our organisation who have not had the same privileges, access to employment, fair working conditions or labour rights.”
Founded in 1986, Maggie’s is one of Canada’s oldest worker justice organisations run by and for sex workers. They provide sex workers in downtown Toronto’s east end with life-sustaining services and supports, including targeted efforts for street-based sex workers, queer and trans sex workers, and Black, Indigenous and workers of colour. Services and advocacy serve community members navigating poverty, criminalization, stigma and a host of intersecting forms of oppression.
“We’re proud of Maggie’s staff for their strong commitment to worker led organizing and solidarity that this unionisation process represents,” said Estelle Davis, Acting Operations Director at Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. “We believe that worker organisations are essential for building working class power locally and internationally and we look forward to working with the union to make Maggie’s Toronto a fairer, more collaborative, and stronger organisation.”
CUPE is the largest union in Canada, representing more than 700,000 workers in education, healthcare, municipalities, social services, universities, transportation and communications.