Susan Hart-Kulbaba has devoted her personal and professional life to the eradication of gender-based discrimination, workers’ rights and social justice for all. She was a member and then a staff person of the Retail Clerks Union (now United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832) and in 1985 became the first federation coordinator (now called executive director) of the Manitoba Federation of Labour. Here she was a driving force in the campaign to dedicate three of the MFL’s executive council seats to women vice-presidents, ensuring that women’s perspective would be included in policy discussions and decision making. In 1989, she became the first woman elected to the presidency of the MFL and carried her passion for improving the voices of women in their own unions and the lives of women in the workplace throughout her six-year tenure. The executive council was expanded to accommodate vice-president seats for Aboriginal workers and Workers of Colour.
In order to realize social justice goals, she built relationships with community groups: Choices, the Action Canada Network, the Medicare Alert Coalition, the Coalition to Save Our Services, the Manitoba Childcare Coalition, the Coalition for Fairness, the Manitoba Council of Health Care Unions, the Gay and Lesbian Resource Centre, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Osborne House, Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women and the United Way.
She continues to be a passionate advocate for those discriminated against and for women, especially around the topics of violence against women, child care, pay equity and women’s health. Hart-Kulbaba has never been afraid to speak truth to power, regardless of the consequences. When possible, she uses logic, laced with a dose of humour. Where not possible, she uses actions, including political action. A trademark of her leadership style is her ability to work in partnership with like-minded individuals and/or organizations. As a result of her courageous stances, she is one of the decision makers in Manitoba.