Nfld. & Labrador

'Don't be that guy,' NAPE advises in anti-violence campaign

The union has produced a series of TV commercials that focus on issues like workplace harassment and consent.

TV commericials, website take aim at workplace harassment

Christine Abraham, Danielle Arbour, Amy House and Andrea Idinye are among the women who appear in new commercials produced by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

The largest union in Newfoundland and Labrador is launching a campaign to end violence against women with an appeal to men: don't be that guy.

"That guy is the one that's making comments … the person who's going into a workplace and making innuendo," said union president Jerry Earle.

"I dealt with a case where a person brought in a birthday cake that was totally inappropriate, embarrassed the woman."

The campaign was a natural fit for NAPE, Earle said, because 68 per cent of union members are women.

The union produced a series of TV commercials that centre on issues like workplace harassment and consent. It also launched a website with contact information for resources like the mental health crisis line and police departments.

'Violence and equality are linked,' says Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour and chair of the St. John's Status of Women Council. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"To spark a change, you need to be direct," said Andrea Idinye, who appears in the ads.

"I think that slogan does exactly that."

According to Statistics Canada, 1,136 women in this province were victims of police-reported intimate partner violence in 2017. That's equal to 495 per 100,000, slightly higher than the national average of 487.

Ranked on a list of the 13 provinces and territories from highest to lowest rates of intimate partner violence against women, Newfoundland and Labrador comes in eighth.

NAPE president Jerry Earle says he has dealt with plenty of situations in which women in the workplace were disrespected and demeaned. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"Violence and equality are linked," said Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour and chair of the St. John's Status of Women Council, and that needs to be talked about.

"They may be uncomfortable conversations, they may be tense, but until you have them, then you've never really done everything you can to try and eliminate gender-based violence."

Earle said he expects the slogan to be a conversation starter, and he's prepared for some people, even union members, to disagree with the strategy.

The intent isn't to paint all men with the same brush, Earle said.

"This is not saying that every guy does this, but for those that do, you have to step back and say, 'Oh, am I that guy?'"

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Carolyn Stokes