Every Labour Day, Maria Bocangel makes a point of bringing along co-workers and family members to march through the streets of downtown Toronto.
“It’s about standing up for fairness for working families and building the movement now and for the future,” said Bocangel.
At her Superstore, Bocangel works actively to spread the union message. She is constantly on the go, helping inform members about the union, while promoting initiatives such as the local union scholarship programs and webCampus courses. She encourages her co-workers to participate, whether it’s Labour Day, International Women’s Day, Members’ Day or Take Back the Night.
“Some people don't know about the union at all, and my work as a steward is to help inform them,” she said "The young people are the future and it’s important to get them involved.”
Bocangel fondly recalls the first Labour Day event she attended in the mid-2000s, seeing the crowds and meeting new union members.
“I was ‘wowed’ by the whole experience, seeing so many UFCW Canada members and members from other unions marching together to make life better for others.”
Since that day, she has become more involved in the union, attending as many events as she can, and serving on the Women’s Issues Committee and her store’s Joint Health and Safety Committee.
This year as always, Labour Day remains important to Bocangel because it is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with all workers across Canada, support the local union and the labour movement as a whole.
"Each Labour Day, we celebrate workers' rights and gather together to have our voices heard,” she said "It means a lot to me and I will continue to deliver the important messages on behalf of my local union's members.”
This year, Bocangel will still be heading downtown with co-workers, family and friends, but instead of marching through the streets of Toronto, they will be gathering together at a local restaurant to reflect on Labour Day and observing the virtual events.
“It’s about showing unity and strength as union members,” she said.
At work, Bocangel remains as busy as ever, dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on the membership. Since the start of the pandemic, she has tried to promote masks for the membership, took the lead in wiping down work stations and lunch tables, and encouraged others to do the same. It hasn’t been easy, with some customers not observing the mask requirements or social distancing.
“It’s about doing what we can as union stewards to protect the membership in this difficult time,” she said.
As she gets ready to celebrate Labour Day this year, Bocangel said the union means a lot to her.
"I am proud to be part of such a great family, with a strong foundation that makes 1006A one of the best unions in Canada,” she said.