35 National & State LGBT Organizations Stand in Solidarity & Pledge Action for Workers’ Rights

As national, state and local organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality, we stand in solidarity with teachers, firefighters, nurses and all workers across this country fighting for their basic rights – for all of our rights. We are one.

Politicians in over 30 states have proposed anti-union legislation in the 2011 session. Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa and Florida are among a growing number of states with legislatures proposing bills to destroy workers’ right to bargain collectively in the workplace. Hundreds of thousands of state, county and local employees are battling proposals in Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Michigan and Florida that seek to destroy collective bargaining rights, to revoke or restrict “prevailing wage” laws; prevent unions from collecting dues from their members; terminate union negotiated contracts; and remove required binding arbitration.

Politicians’ radical attacks on workers’ fundamental rights would be devastating for LGBT families, for ALL workers and for all people committed to progressive change in this country. Whether as LGBT workers or community allies of labor, the moment demands we stand up and stand together.

For decades, labor unions have been on the front lines of the fight for social and economic justice for all people. Union members have long been organizing for pay equity, for fair wages and benefits that allow working people to support their families and to ensure decent and respectful working conditions. Unions have stood with the LGBT community on core issues such as ENDA, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Prop 8 fight in California and supporting the “It Gets Better” movement for LGBT youth. Workers have negotiated and won union contract language to ensure safe work places, to prohibit employment discrimination, and to include vital provisions such as domestic partner benefits, equal access to FMLA, bereavement and sick leave.

The extreme attacks on workers rights occurring across the country not only would take opportunities to win LGBT equality “off the table” – they could take the table away entirely. Having a union and the right to collective bargaining doesn’t mean workers don’t have hard choices to make in hard times; but a union does mean workers have a voice in deciding how to address those hard times.

The struggles for economic justice and equality are intertwined. In a majority of states, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers can still be fired or discriminated against in hiring or promotions simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. For LGBT workers, a legally-binding union contract is often their only protection. And for ALL workers, the power of standing together with one’s coworkers as a union is one of the most effective ways to ensure fair working conditions.

Undermining workers’ fundamental rights is bad for all of us. Initiatives such as the so-called “right to work” drive down wages and disproportionately harm women and people of color. For example:

  • Union women earn $149 more each week than nonunion women.
  • Union membership narrows the pay gap for women. Nationally, the gap between men’s and women’s pay is 32 percent—but between all men and union women, the gap is only 5 percent.
  • Latino/a union members earn 45 percent ($180) more each week than nonunion Latinos/as.
  • African Americans earn 30 percent ($140) more each week if they are union members.
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander workers earn about 14.3 percent or about $2.50 per hour more than non-unionized AAPI workers.

We, the undersigned, pledge to join with Pride at Work and our other labor and community allies – and take action:

  • Add our voices to the solidarity campaigns for workers rights, inspired by the protestors in Wisconsin, in support of workers’ rights, in opposition to “Right to Work” initiatives, and in the shared struggles to protect vital public services, which support all of our communities and strengthen our local economies
  • Continue to educate our community about issues of workers’ rights and the role of labor in fighting for social and economic justice for all people
  • Engage our state affiliates, chapters and/or local leaders in the coordinated state / local “fight back” efforts.
  • Mobilize LGBT community support for these unprecedented labor battles.
Pride At Work
National Black Justice Coalition
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Stonewall Democrats
Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Equality Federation
Equality Iowa
Equality Pennsylvania
Equality Wisconsin Inc.
Fair Wisconsin
Family Equality Council
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Human Rights Campaign
Indiana Equality Action
Lambda Legal
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Minority AIDS Council
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA)
One Colorado
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) National
People For the American Way
Pride At Work – Michigan
Queens Pride House
Queers for Economic Justice
Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
The CENTER (The LGBT & Progressive Place to Be)
The Equality Network (TEN) (Oklahoma)
Transgender Law Center
UNID@S: National LGBT Latin@ Human Rights Organization