HEU’s Pink Shirt Day message – It isn’t big to make others feel small

Members and staff of the Hospital Employees’ Union will show their support by wearing pink, including the union’s “It isn’t big to make others feel small” T-shirts, as part of a national solidarity protest against harassment and bullying on the 8th Annual Pink Shirt Anti-bullying Day – Wednesday, February 25. 

Organized by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver, British Columbians are asked to wear an item of pink clothing to demonstrate their opposition to bullying in all its devastating forms, including the growing concern of cyberbullying. 

“Our members have participated in Pink Shirt Day since its inception,” says HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson. “Unfortunately, health care workers know all too well the damaging impact of workplace harassment and bullying, and this is an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation about this increasingly alarming issue.” 

That’s why HEU successfully lobbied with other unions to have workplace bullying and harassment included as a compensable mental health claim through WorkSafeBC. 

The result was the passage of Bill 14 on May 31, 2012 changing the Workers Compensation Act to include: “a significant work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors, arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment.” 

Then, in November 2013, after province-wide consultation with unions and employers, WorkSafeBC introduced amendments to sections 115, 116 and 117 of the Workers Compensation Act – to clearly outline the responsibilities of employers, supervisors and workers to create respectful workplaces. 

In Canada, pink became a national symbol of anti-bullying after two Nova Scotia teenagers stood up for a classmate who was bullied at school for wearing a pink shirt. The high school students – David Shepherd and Travis Price – took up the cause, recruited their classmates, and organized a pink protest. 

They bought and distributed 50 pink tank tops to male students, and they all wore them in a day of solidarity against bullying. 

HEU members, be sure to send photos to heu@heu.org of your local’s Pink Shirt Day activities, and download our poster.