CLC Executive Vice-President alleges abuse and sexism

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image: flickr/Richard Rutter

A member of the Canadian Labour Congress's (CLC) national executive has made allegations of abuse and sexism within the organization.

Marie Clarke Walker, the national Executive Vice-President of the CLC, confirmed to rabble that on April 23 she presented an open letter to the executives of the CLC and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) that outlined a number of grievances against CLC President Ken Georgetti.

In the letter, first published by an anonymous twitter feed called Congress Truth and reprinted on RankandFile.ca late Monday, she lists a number of incidences in which she was alienated from the day-to-day goings on at the CLC and had a difficult relationship with Georgetti.

"In all consciousness, I couldn't look myself in the mirror and not say something or do something," said Walker.

Ken Georgetti could not be reached for comment.

Barbara Byers, a current CLC Executive Vice-President who is running for Secretary-Treasurer, could not confirm the specific incidences of abuse, but she did note that Walker has been working out of the Toronto office for some time. Walker stated in her letter that she was forced to work in Toronto, away from the CLC headquarters in Ottawa.

"I think the letter is a reflection of what her experience has been," said Byers, adding that overall, the labour movement is sometimes a tough place to work.

Walker's allegations come a week before the CLC elections.

"Those who know me know that this letter has been written for years, waiting for the opportune time to come out," Walker said, noting that it was the hope of working the issues out internally that stayed her hand. But she says it was the possibility of change within the CLC that made her feel ready to come forward.

"For me it was easier to do it this time because there was a [presidential] challenge," she added.

Byers -- who has said she is not running on a slate and has not endorsed any of the presidential candidates, says she will not let the allegations affect her work.

"I expect I can work with whoever is elected president," she added. "Because I will bring an approach of consensus building, of respect and inclusion and I will expect the same thing of whoever becomes the President."

Walker is currently seeking to be re-elected to another term as Executive Vice-President.

image: flickr/Richard Rutter

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