Working class unity is a core belief of our union. Article IV of the Union’s constitution stipulates that all working persons are eligible for membership “regardless of skill, age, sex, nationality, color, race, religious or political belief or affiliation, sexual orientation, disability, or immigration status.”
While many regard marriage equality as the hallmark win for the LGBTQ+ Community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer/Questioning), LGBTQ+ people across the country continue to struggle against housing inequality, workplace violence, and other forms of legal discrimination.
26 states provide no protections for LGBTQ+ workers against workplace discrimination. At the federal level, the Obama administration attempted to extend nondiscrimination laws to LGBTQ+ individuals, and the Trump administration has now moved to roll that back with a final decision likely to come out of the courts. The majority of states also provide no protections to LGBTQ+ individuals in housing, public amenities, and credit access — all of which disproportionately affect the working class.
“Religious liberty” is increasingly used as a justification for discrimination in employment and other areas. The Trump administration recently issued an executive order explicitly allowing federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ+ workers and pregnant unmarried workers based on religious belief. This is a sad repeat of the justifications used by those opposed to interracial marriage in the last century.
Violence against LGBTQ+ people occurs far too frequently, with 51 percent reporting having experienced violence based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2016, 49 people were gunned down at a gay nightclub in Orlando — the deadliest shooting on record targeting the LGBTQ+ community. The most violent year for trans people was also 2016, with 27 deaths on record. 2018 saw at least 26 deaths. This year has already seen at least eleven trans women murdered, all of whom were African-American. The average life expectancy of a trans woman of color is 35 years, and only six states have banned the use of a “trans panic” defense in murder cases.
We must unite and fight against all discrimination, whether in our communities, in our government, or in our workplaces. Homophobia and transphobia keep us divided and weaken the labor movement. We must take up the cry that an injury to one is an injury to all.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 76th UE CONVENTION:
- Encourages the formation of LGBTQ+ caucuses at various levels of the union;
- Calls on locals to bargain protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, health insurance and pension coverage for couples of all genders and sexual identities, and leave-of-absence language that gives domestic partners the same rights as married employees;
- Directs the UE Education Department to develop, in conjunction with LGBTQ+ members, anti-oppression workshops and materials for use at all levels of the union in order to educate our membership and communities on the destructive nature of LGBTQ+ oppression;
- Supports organizations fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ people;
- Urges members to boycott establishments that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people;
- Calls on UE negotiating committees to bargain gender-neutral language in their collective bargaining agreements;
- Encourages all levels of the union to make use of gender-neutral language.