We haven’t had an article written by a contributing hotel worker in a while, so I’m excited to post this short piece and photo from NYC hotel worker and NYHTC member Athena Mennis on the importance of solidarity between labor and the LGBTQ movement..
Labor and the Gay Rights Struggle
by Athena Mennis (@uAthenaAntonia)
Labor organizations have only recently begun to realize that in order to truly win justice they must fight for everyone’s rights. The AFL-CIO has faced its own serious struggles fighting discrimination amongst unionists. Back in the 1970s the AFL-CIO began recognizing certain constituency groups, to “promote the full participation of women and minorities in the union movement and ensure unions hear and respond to the concerns of the communities they represent.”
Sadly not until 2005 was the AFL-CIO’s Resolution #2 put in place to promote solidarity across the board, and help ensure full inclusion and participation amongst all members, regardless of age, ethnicity, sex, or orientation.
Resolution #2 has helped promote solidarity amongst all communities. The creation of the Pride-at-Work constituency group connected the labor movement with the LGBT community. Labor began acknowledging the rights of same sex couples, years before our government even gave them a chance. Pride-At-Work was active in making sure LGBT rights and benefits for same sex couples were included in union contracts. In many cases, union contracts provide LGBTQ workers benefits and protections far beyond what’s guaranteed by state or municipal law.
The union I’m a member of, the New York Hotel Trades Council (Unite Here, AFL-CIO), recognizes same sex marriage, partnerships etc. both internally and in all our contracts. Same sex couples are allowed all equal benefits that every other member is allowed.
Such contracts and policies obviously do not represent complete liberation for LGBTQ people, and much of the labor movement still has a long way to go in embracing the LGBTQ struggle. Still, the emerging labor-LGBTQ solidarity we’re seeing certainly represents an important step forward that can only strengthen both struggles.