Newark Local recently became an organizational member of Pride At Work (PAW)–NJ Chapter. For those not familiar, PAW is a nonprofit organization representing LGBT union members and their allies. PAW is an officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations) that organizes mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBT Community to further social and economic justice. Their national office in Washington, DC coordinates and supports more than 20 chapters across the country.
I had the pleasure of attending one of their labor leadership trainings in Washington, DC last month. The training covered a number of LGBT Labor Issues including employment discrimination, equal access, LGBT-inclusive contract language, and marriage equality.
Employment discrimination is a key issue because in a majority of states, workers can be legally fired because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Equal access is another issue because LGBT workers, particularly transgender workers, can often face steep obstacles to gaining full access to benefits at their workplace such as transgendered-inclusive healthcare. Some trans workers are even denied equal access to certain facilities in the workplace especially gendered facilities such as bathrooms. Because both state and federal laws are inadequate, it is vital that union contracts contain specific language to ensure LGBT workers are protected. This includes nondiscrimination language, LGBT-inclusive definitions, health coverage, facilities access, and inclusive leave of absence language.
I passed on the information gathered to our current negotiations team and I wanted to make sure I shared my experience with you. I welcome your comments and questions at our June 9th meeting where I will provide more details about the training or you can reach me at email@example.com.
Vice President LL2339N