New Success with Women's Advocate Program

February 5, 2009, 1:33 PM EST

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As part of a new collective agreement at Woodingford Lodge Long Term Care facility in Woodstock, Ontario, the CAW Local 636 bargaining committee was successful in negotiating a women's advocate.

Woodingford Lodge is the former workplace of Sandra Schott who was tragically murdered in December 2005 by her former partner, leaving behind three children. Since her death, the CAW bargaining committee has worked hard to negotiate the program to ensure that in the future, women in the workplace would have the necessary resources when struggling with abusive relationships or harassment on the job.

Kelly-Anne Orr, chairperson of the Woodingford Lodge unit said that after having the experience of losing one of their co-workers, CAW members at the facility were determined to ensure that the adequate resources would be there for women experiencing domestic violence. "We're very concerned that with today's economic crisis, we'll see an increase in domestic violence," Orr said, who represents a predominantly female workforce.

Ross Gerrie, president of CAW Local 636, stressed that getting women's advocates into all workplaces in the local union is a priority at the bargaining table. "The murder of Sandra and another woman worker at the Woodstock General Hospital galvanized not only our local union but the entire community to address the issue of domestic violence. Gerrie indicated that the County of Oxford, which owns and operates Woodingford Lodge, was very reluctant to introduce the program, but eventually the bargaining committee was able to secure the women's advocate position. 

"We know that we can't stop violence against women at the bargaining table alone, but the women's advocate program is an important step in providing women with support and resources at a time when often they have no where else to turn," said CAW Director of Women's Programs Julie White. 

To date, there are 120 women's advocates in workplaces across the country, who are trained to offer resources and assistance in cases of domestic violence or harassment.

For more information on the women's advocate program, please visit:

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