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Steward Notes: Your right to wear red

Thousands of AUPE members are wearing red to support their negotiating teams. But what if your boss tries to stop you?

Jun 27, 2024

By Terry Inigo-Jones, Communications staff 

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What do you do if your employer sees red? 

Our employers often make the workplace feel tense when we are in bargaining. 

AUPE members use a variety of approaches to show that we are united and determined to get the raises, benefits, and job security we deserve. 

The biggest example is wearing red at work. Right now, thousands of AUPE members are wearing red, especially when their negotiating teams are at the table, to show their solidarity. 

Some managers, however, push back when we show our union pride in the workplace. 

Stewards must be prepared  in case the employer seeks to intimidate or discipline members for wearing red. 

Some workplaces have strict rules about what employees can wear. Some of us cannot wear anything with union logos, and other members must wear uniforms. 

That’s why members are wearing red: it’s an easy way to show solidarity while following our employer’s dress codes. A red shirt is just a red shirt. 

If you can’t wear a red shirt, no problem! You can also wear a red headband, a wrist band or shoes. You could also use a red water bottle or a red coffee mug. Some health care workers have pulled long red socks up over their scrubs! 

We want employers seeing red wherever they turn. The more members who wear red, the more our employers will understand that we mean business. 

But what if your manager or the employer tells a member they cannot wear red? What if they threaten to punish members for this display of solidarity? 

First, get to know your collective agreement and any regulations at your workplace about what can and cannot be worn. Many agreements allow members to wear the AUPE logo, so why not a red shirt? 

If there are no restrictions or if it clear nothing has been violated, politely make that clear to the employer. 

Your first defence is to show that no rules have been broken, no matter how uncomfortable the sea of red makes your bosses. 

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If management does not back off or tries to intimidate members so they don’t wear red, contact AUPE immediately. Call the Member Resource Centre at 1-800-232-7284 or send an email here

Your Membership Services Officers (MSOs) can help from there.

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