Get the new OUTreach Pride Guide 2018! Copies will be available at the UFCW Convention in April at our OUTreach Booth.
OUTreach is pleased to announce that we are offering four scholarships for members to attend next year’s Creating Change Conference in Washington D.C. in January. The Creating Change Conference is organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force and it is the foremost political, leadership and skills-building conference for thousands of committed people to develop and hone their skills and share victories. In the past two years, the OUTreach Executive Board members have participated as one of the leading workshop presenters, putting our union, UFCW, in the forefront as a key voice for working class and labor issues at this conference. In a time where the labor movement and everything we have fought for is under attack, OUTreach’s dedication to organizing social and economic justice for all workers and ensuring full equality of LGBTQ workers at work and in their union reflects our union’s commitment to building a resilient working class that is not divided by hate.
Providing these scholarships to UFCW members is a crucial step in recruiting and developing our own rank-and-file leadership within our union and in the broader movement. It is with this vision in mind that OUTreach offers four scholarships to UFCW members to join our contingent at next year’s conference.
If you have any questions regarding this, please contact Michele Kessler at 610-513-9927 or Jean Tong at 213-590-7177.
Please take a look at the 2017 Creating Change Scholarship flyer linked below for more information.
“We just want the truth to be told about Walmart’s true actions on LGBT issues, and we don’t want HRC encouraging folks to spend dollars where, quite frankly, they shouldn’t be spending their dollars,” said OUTreach chairperson Michele Kessler.
The full story can be read here.
For Immediate Release: November 19, 2015
Contact: Amy Gray, firstname.lastname@example.org
LGBTQ LABOR GROUP DEMANDS HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN TO HOLD WALMART ACCOUNTABLE FOR ALLEGED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBTQ WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Group calls for changes to Walmart’s high Corporate Equality Index score with the HRC in light of alleged discrimination cases involving LGBTQ workers
(Washington, D.C.) – UFCW OUTreach, the LGBTQ constituency group for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), along with the Making Change at Walmart campaign, released the following statement in response to Walmart’s high Corporate Equality Index score from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
Walmart recently received a near perfect score of 90 out of 100 for its Corporate Equality Index score from the HRC. The company received this accolade despite two discrimination suits filed by Walmart workers in the past few months and numerous stories of alleged harassment and discrimination from LGBTQ Walmart workers.
The two suits include the most recent one from Samantha Azzarano, who alleges that she was harassed and then fired from a New Jersey Walmart for being transgender. The other discrimination suit was filed by Jacqueline Cote in Massachusetts, who alleges that she was repeatedly denied when she tried to add her same-sex spouse to her Walmart health insurance.
“It’s disappointing and quite frankly irresponsible that once again HRC has issued Walmart a 90 rating in the Corporate Equality Index. This year alone, Walmart has had to defend itself in two alleged discrimination cases involving LGBTQ workers. How can HRC continue to justify a high rating for a company with this kind of record? The LGBTQ community deserves to know the full truth about Walmart and why they should spend their dollars elsewhere,” said Michele Kessler, President of UFCW OUTreach.
Throughout the year, union members and LGBTQ advocates have been telling HRC that “enough is enough,” when it comes to the HRC not holding Walmart accountable for all of the accounts of alleged discrimination and harassment experienced by that LGBTQ Walmart workers and their families.
UFCW OUTreach held meetings with HRC staffers in efforts for the organization to create a better and more comprehensive system when it comes to the Corporate Equality Index and stressed the importance of valuing companies with strong union practices. UFCW OUTreach also sent a letter to Chad Griffin, President of the HRC, calling for the organization to suspend Walmart’s high rating in light of Walmart’s stances on citywide legislation in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and statewide legislation in Arkansas, that caused serious setbacks in protections for LGBTQ people in the state.
The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, where Walmart is both a member and has a representative on the Board of Directors, voted unanimously, to support the repeal of a citywide nondiscrimination ordinance that included protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, Walmart refused to speak out against Arkansas Senate Bill 202 (SB 202), a statewide law which went into effect earlier this year that prevents any jurisdiction from passing an ordinance to ban discrimination.
“Together, we are standing up to the HRC and calling on them to hold Walmart responsible for what is happening to these LGBTQ workers. We will not stop until Walmart changes for the better, and organizations like HRC serve as true allies to LGBTQ workers and discontinue its support for companies that fail in promoting LGBTQ workers’ rights,” said Kessler.
The Advocate recently published an article that features the efforts that UFCW OUTreach has made to have HRC suspend Walmart’s high company score until Walmart truly steps up to support LGBT rights. The article titled, “Fayetteville, Arkansas Voters Approve LGBT Protections,” included,
“LGBT workers for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union sent a letter to HRC about Wal-Mart’s tepid stance in favor of LGBT protections and asked the LGBT organization to suspend the company’s score until they stepped up their support for LGBT rights. The company has also been embroiled in lawsuits alleging discrimination against LGBT people.”
Published in The Advocate on August 30.
Pride at Work Tells HRC: ‘Enough Is Enough’
Pride at Work has asked all unions to stop supporting the Human Rights Campaign until it addresses issues with its Corporate Equality Index, which could result in HRC losing more than $100,000.
Pride at Work is done playing nice with the Human Rights Campaign.
The LGBT workers’ organization this weekend approved a scathing resolution that calls on member organizations to stop funding the Human Rights Campaign until the advocacy group addresses what Pride at Work sees as systemic issues and key problems with HRC’sCorporate Equality Index.
After what the LGBT labor organization contends have been months of unfruitful conversations with HRC staffers about the importance of valuing companies with strong union practices in HRC’s CEI, the nonprofit organization, which represents LGBT union members and their allies, overwhelmingly approved the resolution at its triennial convention, held in Orlando, Fla., from August 26-29. Organizers tellThe Advocate the voice-vote on the resolution returned only a single “no” vote.
“Through this resolution, the members of Pride @ Work are demanding that enough is enough,” Shane Larson, co-president of Pride at Work and a member of Communication Workers of America, tells The Advocate. “Working people are under attack every day, and a war on their rights to come together and fight for a voice on the job is being waged by many of the corporations that HRC asks the LGBT community to celebrate.”
As an officially recognized constituency group of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Pride at Work “organizes mutual support between the organized labor movement and the LGBT community to further social and economic justice,” according to the group’s website.
The resolution lays out a litany of issues the organization finds with HRC’s organization, priorities, and most specifically, its annual Corporate Equality Index, which purports to identify companies with strong protections and worthwhile benefits for its LGBT employees.
The opening salvo of the page-long resolution (read it in full on the following page) indicates the tone of Pride at Work’s message, and its ongoing frustration with the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.
“Too often, HRC has catered to its big-moneyed donors at the expense of those who live on the margins,” reads the resolution. “These misguided priorities have disproportionately impacted the transgender community, people of color, and workers, and; … LGBT consumers look to the CEI when deciding how to spend their hard-earned money.”
As such, Pride at Work argues, “the CEI should paint an accurate and complete picture about companies’ policies and practices when it comes to LGBT equality, but has fallen woefully short of this standard.”
Until HRC remedies the issues outlined in detail by the resolution, “Pride at Work calls upon all labor unions, labor federations, and labor-affiliated organizations to cease funding HRC at all levels until these matters are addressed in a manner that shows HRC stands in solidarity with all working Americans for a fair, just and equal society.”
The resolution is binding on the organization of Pride at Work, though leaders note that “of course, it is not binding on any individual union or the AFL-CIO.” That being said, leaders estimate that if all 20 labor unions with which Pride at Work cooperates adopt the resolution, HRC could be facing a financial loss of more than $100,000.
Although Pride at Work leaders tell The Advocate that several companies with anti-union practices and demonstrated hostility toward LGBT employees continue to receive high scores on HRC’s CEI, the resolution calls out one particularly egregious example: Walmart, which received a score of 90 (out of a possible 100) on the most recent CEI, the same year the retail chain’s policies were ruled unlawfully discriminatory in a case filed by a lesbian employee after Walmart refused to allow her to add her cancer-stricken wife to her company insurance plan. That suit, initially filed by Jacqueline Cote, has now become a class-action lawsuit alleging that Walmartsystematically discriminated against its employees in same-sex relationships.
That’s why Pride at Work’s resolution “calls on HRC to suspend the CEI score of Walmart and all other companies that systematically violate LGBT and workers’ rights, and … to fundamentally revamp the CEI so it serves as an accurate barometer of where companies stand on LGBT equality.”
In addition to the documented antigay discrimination perpetuated by companies like Walmart, Pride at Work contends that the CEI’s refusal to take into consideration a company’s unionization policies deliberately ignores the most effective way for LGBT employees to ensure they are treated fairly on the job.
“We have made the case — repeatedly — to HRC that in the current state of LGBT nondiscrimination law in this country, the most durable — and sometimes only — nondiscrimination protections an LGBT person can get on the job is a union contract,” Pride at Work executive director Jerame Davis explains to The Advocate. “Union contracts that include LGBT nondiscrimination policies not only require a company to have a policy on the books, but they also force a company to adhere to those policies in a real way. A union collective bargaining agreement gives workers a process by which they can address discrimination and unfair work practices with their employer that other workers simply don’t have. When more than half of the states in the union do not protect workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, union-busting is very much an LGBT issue, but HRC apparently doesn’t see it that way.”
Pride at Work has “spent significant time and energy over the past year or so attempting to educate HRC and advocate our position with them,” adds Davis. “With little to nothing to show for our efforts, we felt it was our moral obligation to speak out in service of our members and all of the LGBT workers who are, at times, hoodwinked into thinking a corporation has a great track record on LGBT equality when, in fact, all they have is a piece of paper and HRC’s imprimatur.”
“What’s more, the CEI doesn’t account for a corporation’s compliance with their own policies,” continues Davis. “HRC will readily admit they have no ability to verify that the policies they grade in the CEI are actually followed by the company. So, not only do they not grade employers on their willingness to let workers organize a union, they have no actual means of ensuring these companies they give high marks are actually treating their LGBT workers with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Larson, the Pride at Work co-president and CWA member, concludes with question for the nation’s largest and best-funded LGBT organization:
“At a time when the entire labor movement is under attack like never before in our nation’s history, we have to ask: Do you stand with us, or some of the worst corporate abusers of U.S. labor laws and funders of campaigns focused on destroying workers’ rights? At a time when the labor movement is struggling for its very survival, we cannot afford to continue funding an organization like HRC that refuses to stand with us.”
Representatives with the Human Rights Campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read Pride at Work’s full resolution can be read here.
UFCW President Perrone: “We Will End LGBTQ Discrimination in the Workplace”
UFCW Vows to Fight for LGBTQ Rights at Work and Advocate for Comprehensive Healthcare for Transgendered Workers
ORLANDO — Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the largest private sector union in the nation, addressed LGBTQ union members at the AFL-CIO Pride at Work conference in Orlando, Fla. The UFCW was the first labor union to endorse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The UFCW also implemented a policy of including gender reassignment surgery as part of a comprehensive Health and Welfare plan for union employees:
“Even though we are celebrating marriage equality this summer, too many LGBTQ workers still endure discrimination in workplaces that are far from equal. Today, in 29 states, it is still legal to fire a worker on the basis of their sexual orientation. In 33 states, a worker can be fired for being transgendered.
“Right now, the only way for these workers to gain the protection at work that we all deserve is through a union contract.
“In this spirit, I am proud to say that as part of our long commitment to equality for all workers, the UFCW is changing our Health and Welfare plan to include gender reassignment surgery. While this is a change that should have been made long ago, it is a change that I am proud of.
“The UFCW is committed to putting an end to discrimination in the workplace. We will stand up, speak out and fight for what is right when companies disregard the value of hard-working men and women, based on whom they may love or who they are.”
Marc Perrone, UFCW International President, released the following statement in support of the introduction of the Equality Act.
“Workers across America go to work every day in fear that they will be fired for simply being who they are. From state to state, LGBTQ workers do not have the adequate protections from being discriminated against or from losing their jobs because of who they love or because of their gender identity or expression.
“The Equality Act takes meaningful steps towards ensuring better protections for LGBTQ workers and families. The fact that so many workers continue to face discrimination at their workplace, often with little recourse, demonstrates that we must continue working towards building the better America each and every one of us deserves.
“Currently union contracts are often the only protection LGBTQ workers and their families have to combat discrimination. Our UFCW family strongly supports full equality for LGBTQ people both at home and on the job. We support the basic right for everyone to have employment opportunities and to keep their job regardless sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.
“Our legislators should follow the path that labor has set for LGBTQ equality and protections. For the better America we all believe in, I urge Congress to pass the Equality Act.”
UFCW International President Marc Perrone’s op-ed titled, “After marriage, a push for job protections” was published in the Washington Blade on July 16.
After marriage, a push for job protections
The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to uphold the right of Americans to marry who they love regardless of sex is a victory that all Americans should celebrate. Ensuring all Americans have the fundamental freedom to form families and spend a lifetime together is a proud moment for this country and the fight for equality. Unfortunately, we must continue to fight for true equality for LGBTQ Americans. The next battlefield is in our workplaces.
While marriage equality may now be law of the land, the issue of workplace discrimination endures. In comparison, when bans against interracial marriage were overturned by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia, the federal government had already outlawed employment discrimination on the basis of race. The 1964 Civil Rights Act had been passed and signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson just shy of three years earlier. Regrettably, our political leaders haven’t displayed the same kind of forward thinking when comes to LGBTQ rights.
Nationwide employment non-discrimination laws have been introduced, but never passed, in Congress since 1974. The repeat failure of Congress to protect workers regardless of sexual orientation is a stain on our democracy. The state legislative bodies that have failed to protect the rights every American have shamefully forsaken their responsibilities. They should be ashamed of their inertia. According to a 2013 YouGov poll, many Americans believe that such workplace discrimination laws have already passed. The UFCW has supported both federal and state legislation that would outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ workers for years. Since our leaders won’t act, our union—and many others—have been determined to protect our LGBTQ coworkers at work.
Right now in the 29 states where it’s legal to be fired for being gay or transgender, the only way workers who identify as LGBTQ can get real protection is through a union contract. By standing together and negotiating a legally binding union contract, we can make certain that no one is fired because of some company’s or manager’s antiquated and discriminatory notions. UFCW members, and millions of union members across the labor movement, are fighting for non-discrimination clauses that guarantee the most basic rights: the right to keep your job regardless of your sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. By bargaining strong union contracts, union members can ensure that LGBTQ workers have the right to use family leave to care for a partner; the right to have their health benefits apply to their partners and families; and the right to use the bathroom of their choice.
The truth is that our union has had to take on these civil rights battles in our workplaces, one-by-one, out of necessity because of the lack of federal protections. A federal law barring such discrimination is needed now, more than ever. Much like many of the workplace protections we now take for granted, our legislators should follow the path that union workers have boldly laid and protect every American worker from unfair discrimination. In the 21st century, in a country where it is finally possible for every American to marry the person they love, to allow someone to be fired for that same love is shameful.
While the fight for LGBTQ equality has taken a major step forward, we must not forget the hard work that must be done and the battles that must be won if we are to achieve true equality for all.
The “Making Change at Walmart,” campaign is circulating this press release in response to Walmart denying health insurance benefits to the spouses of gay workers.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: July 16, 2015
CONTACT: Jess Levin, 202-466-1576, email@example.com
Walmart Faces ANOTHER Discrimination Suit
Making Change At Walmart Calls for Retailer to Address Allegations Immediately
Washington, DC — “Making Change at Walmart,” the national campaign to change Walmart into a more responsible employer, released the following statement in response to reports that Walmart is being sued over denying health insurance benefits to the spouses of gay employees.
“Walmart has said it supports the LGBT community but actions speak louder than words. And in this case, Walmart repeatedly treated a gay employee as a second class citizen by allegedly denying her the right to have her spouse added to her insurance. All Walmart workers, no matter their race, gender, age, or sexuality, deserve and expect respect, fairness, and equality in the workplace. Walmart must address these serious allegations immediately and explain to the American people how a company that professes to be for equal rights seems to face such disturbing accusations.”