Profile: Born in poverty in rural Jamaica, Pauline Cardinal began factory work right after elementary school. Her Kingston city work as a domestic helper opened up the door for nanny employment in Canada in 1979, at $40 per week. Though the hiring family reported higher wages to Immigration, Cardinal had to support her Jamaican family on meagre wages.
Cardinal received permanent residence through marriage to an Indigenous Albertan pen pal, who died 10 years later of poor health. In Alberta, Cardinal was able to obtain better wages, though sometimes experiencing tremendous workplace stress. But she was able to obtain subcontract work in hospitals and permanent employment in the public school system. Pauline Cardinal describes her experiences with racism in Canada, and her union training and advocacy through CUPE Local 474.
Keywords: CUPE Local 474; Immigration – Caribbean; Immigrants – Wages; Poverty – Caribbean; Racialized Minorities; Racism; Trade Unionism; Working Poor; Workplace Health & Safety
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