Over the past three decades, Lily Chang has served workers and families as a union labour leader, advocate, and activist. Her empathy and commitment to fairness have sent her down a long and rich path within Canada’s labour movement.
It was her commitment to fairness that led Lily to file a grievance when she was denied a position while working at Seneca College. Lily quickly became aware that she had the skills to advocate for others and became steward for her OPSEU local, kicking off a long relationship within Canada’s labour movement.
Lily began working as a social services caseworker for the former municipality of Metropolitan Toronto in 1989, where she saw firsthand the impacts of inequality on the families she supported. She became a steward for her union, CUPE Local 79, where she mobilized members to tackle a staggering wage gap between caseworkers at the city and those working for the provincial government, and later for wage harmonization and pay equity within the amalgamated City of Toronto.
Lily, always having a knack for numbers, was elected Treasurer of her local in 2005. In her thirteen years as Treasurer, Lily oversaw a revitalized strike fund, implemented strong financial practices, and led an IT overhaul that involved a new website and member portal system. While managing staff, as well as service and maintenance contracts, she also led the acquisition of the local’s own building in downtown Toronto, further ensuring the financial prosperity of the organization.
Throughout her union activism, Lily has remained a constant support and inspiration to her two children, one who now works in electrical engineering and the other who works as a researcher in the labour movement.
Lily serves on the Executive Board of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, where she chairs the Municipal Committee. In this role, Lily has enjoyed working with different unions to organize for municipal and school board elections.
Lily recently concluded a seven-year term as Labour Representative on the Board of Trustees for the United Way of Greater Toronto.