Monday, September 03, 2012

Toward a gay Labor Day

Today's post is outsourced to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; our friends there want to remind us that the union movement -- despite many hiccups along the way -- has been very good for LGBT people. We're workers and we we need the power of organized labor to have a chance amid recession, downsizing and greedy employers.

Did you know that we have weekends thanks to labor unions? The Task Force has a long history of standing with organized labor and today, we want to take the time to thank them for standing with LGBT workers across the country.

While organized labor has been able to secure many workplace gains, from better health care to the family medical leave act, there are still things we’re fighting for. Most states do not protect LGBT workers from discrimination and there is currently no explicit federal protection for LGBT people in the workplace.

… This Labor Day, unions are standing with us in a call for workplace protections. Union workers are protected against discrimination in their contracts, but still see the need for a clear federal law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s National Compensation Survey, the relationship between our fight for equal treatment in the workplace is undeniably linked to the benefits of unions.

  • 53% to 17%. If you’re a state or local worker with union representation you are more likely to have access to health care coverage for your same-sex partner. Fifty-three percent of state/local workers in a union had access to domestic partner benefits compared to just 17 percent for non-union employees.
  • 46% to 28%. In private industry you’re more likely to have same-sex domestic partner benefits with a union (46%) than if you lack the collective bargaining power of a union (28%).
  • 54% to 47%. You’re more likely to have same-sex partner survivor benefits in retirement as a state/local worker if you’re represented by a union (54%) than if you are not in a union (47%).
There are benefits beyond health insurance or retirement security that unions offer LGBT workers. Union workers can be fired only with just cause and often have access to grievance procedures and arbitration. Additionally, many union contracts do what federal law does not: prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And unions are out front to ensure that transgender people have equal access to benefits.

Just as they have with LGBT people, Republicans have declared war on workers' rights and the workers' movement in which expresses itself as organized labor. In tough times, friends should stick together!

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