Maxine Gay - The first lady of First Union
Maxine Gay is Retail, Finance and Commerce Secretary of FIRST Union, and next month steps down from over 30 years at the forefront of New Zealand's union movement. The daughter of a seamstress and a runaway merchant seafarer, Gay's early life prepared her for a career championing the rights of working people - she was a teen mum forced to adopt out her child, a survivor of domestic violence and a solo mum while she forged her career. In her 30s, Gay became an organiser with the Clerical Workers Union and her path was set. During the 90's she became general secretary, then president of the NZ Trade Union Federation, and moved to her FIRST Union role in 2006. During her time there she's overseen the doubling of retail membership to 12,500, more than doubling of the Countdown membership, the organising and first collective agreements for The Warehouse, Bunnings, Pak'nSave and New World supermarkets and now the new chains of Cotton On, Zara and H&M.