By Brian Griffin, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council
Organized Labor is the American Melting Pot. It is the single most reflective body of what these United States actually look like. We are the face of America, and America’s face continues to change and evolve. Not only do we look like America, but we also fight for all working people, because America’s real diversity is on full display in the rank and file of The Labor Movement — no matter the race, creed, gender, ethnicity, or any other identity.
It is simply a Human Right that all people should be safe and free from harm, discrimination, violence, and abuse, whether at home, in the workplace, in their community, wherever they choose to exercise the individual liberties and freedoms promised them by this great American Experiment. However, it isn’t enough that LGBTQ+ people still lack basic federal legal protections in the workplace, which make them vulnerable to recent appalling and shameful actions by state legislatures. In recent months, the LGBTQ+ Community has once again become the unfortunate focus of opportunistic politicians on the right that threaten to take us backward after decades of forward progress, inclusion, and freedom to love whomever a person loves.
Unfortunately, anti-LGBTQ+ attacks by right-wing extremist groups have surged, and anti-trans politics spurred by lawmakers and far-right news outlets have renewed fears and once more threaten the community’s safety. But despite the noise generated by the right wing, polls suggest they are at odds with the vast majority of real Americans. In March, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 76% of Americans – including 62% of Republicans – favor laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodation.
And thankfully, The American Labor Movement is fighting back with everything we have. Union contracts, legally enforceable in every state, protect LGBTQ+ workers from harassment and can mean real progress for workers and our families to gain health care, savings, a future, and so much more. Check out some model contract language from our constituency group, Pride at Work
However, we still have a long way to go, and it will take all of us to secure the change we seek. Far too often, LGBTQ+ workers face retaliation and fear getting fired for standing with their co-workers. We still regularly see the same corporations that use Pride as a marketing ploy, celebrating Pride while employing union-busting consultants that deny workers the promise of a union contract.
Far too often, I see and hear people who just want to give up because It’s just too hard… But we cannot. We, The Labor Movement, are the best-equipped, most appropriate single body of people in this great land to fight this fight and secure this change, once and for all. We must be at the vanguard of this movement and be the change we seek.
Talk to your family, your friends, your church members, your fellow workers, and everyone within the sound of your voice. Help them see a different way of perceiving and accepting people, especially if you know people who look in love and but also look different than your family, your friends, your church members, your fellow workers. Remember: An injury to one of us is an injury to all of us, and that includes all our Sisters, Brothers and friends, no matter which pronouns they employ.