McCloskey Recognized for Women's Rights Work

July 26, 2012, 8:45 AM EST

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CAW Local 222 retiree Beverly McCloskey was awarded the prestigious Agnes Macphail Award, honouring her tireless work on equality issues in the workplace and in broader society. 

McCloskey spent 60 years as a trade union and political activist, much of that time pushing for women's equality rights at General Motors in Oshawa, among other social justice causes. She pioneered the first local union women's committee in Local 222 in 1968 - a group credited as being the catalyst for Ontario's adoption of landmark legislation banning sex and marital status discrimination in the workplace.

"It gave us the right to transfer to so-called male jobs. they paid 22 cents more an hour and they didn't have to work as hard," said McCloskey in an interview with Oshawa This Week.

McCloskey's activism spanned the community of Durham Region. She is a founding board member for the Unemployed Help Centre and also sits on the board of Sunrise Seniors Place.

The Agnes Macphail Award was established in 1990 and awarded through the Ontario NDP Women's Committee. Macphail was the first women ever elected to the Canadian House of Commons and was the first woman sworn into the provincial legislature of Ontario. Among her many accomplishments, Macphail played a leading role in the passage of Ontario's first equal pay legislation in 1951.

Award recipients must have worked for the advancement of women and women's causes and are recognized as role models for women through their leadership.

McCloskey was presented the award at a luncheon held at the YWCA in Oshawa on May 27. McCloskey retired from General Motors in 1984 and is still active in the union and in her community.

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