Passing on the Torch

Contest entry

(Written from the perspective of a daughter of a unionized mother)

Before I was even born countless women like my mother not only joined unions in their workplace but also rose to the challenge of being shop stewards, lighting the torch for the rights of women.

Although I don’t remember it, my first year of life was impacted the most by my mother’s union. As an infant I could not possibly realize that without this invisible shield my mother would have been at risk of losing her job and I would have lost the precious bond I formed during her maternity leave.

As a young child, having her work regular hours meant she could attend all my band concerts! Compared to non-unionized workers she was paid higher wages, had dental and medical coverage and although I was from a larger family, I never did without. When I got sick at school I could always count on her to be there for me.

Through the years I listened to the stories of how my mother challenged unsafe working conditions, harassment and discrimination in awe of how brave she was to be so vocal! Again, I didn’t realize her strength was born from the shield of the union!

My mother will soon be retiring, having earned the right to collect a pension and the dignity of financial independence in her senior years.

Perhaps it is now, as a young woman entering the work force, that I truly realize the gift I have been given. With threats of losing ground on past victories of sick leave and wage increases, women of my generation must also take a leadership role in unions and add fuel to the torch so the shield will be strong enough to protect our future daughters.



Julia Richardson
Award date
March 2016
NUPGE component