The Stand

This is a great month to join Pride at Work

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Celebrate Pride by standing in solidarity with LGBTQ+ community

 

By LARRY BROWN


(June 16, 2022) — “The Concern of One is the Concern of All.”

That’s the simple Declaration of Principle found in the Constitution of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the organization that I have the privilege to lead.

That’s also a principle that guides Pride at Work, a nonprofit organization that represents LGBTQ+ union members and their allies. This constituency group of the AFL-CIO organizes mutual support between the labor movement and the LGBTQ+ community to further social and economic justice. The organization also helps educate the LGBTQ+ community about the benefits of a union contract for LGBTQ+ working people.

Pride at Work is important because labor rights and LGBTQ+ rights are intrinsically linked. The efforts of organized labor to build and strengthen the middle class have never stopped with our union contracts. Unions have consistently demanded fair and equitable treatment not just for our members, but for all workers — no matter who they are, where they live, and who they love. That’s why unions have stood on the front lines of civil rights movements throughout our history; because we believe in equality and justice for all people.

Unfortunately, as we celebrate Pride Month in June, today’s headlines underscore why it remains so important for organized labor to stand in solidarity with our own LGBTQ+ members and their communities. Last weekend, a group of 31 men linked to a White nationalist group with plans to disrupt and riot at a weekend Pride event were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Closer to home in Burien last weekend, dozens of Pride rainbow flags were stolen and several flag poles were damaged.

Six years after the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people and injured more than 50 at the club’s LGBTQ+ Latino event, there are multiple reports this week of right-wing agitators who are targeting LGBTQ+ folks with violence. Experts say hate speech targeting the LGBTQ+ community are on the rise and it could prompt more violence from extremists.

The concern of one is the concern of all. Violence and threats against our Union siblings and the LGBTQ+ community demand that all of organized labor stand with them in solidarity.

As we celebrate Pride Month to uplift LGBTQ+ voices, celebrate of LGBTQ+ culture, and support LGBTQ+ rights, this is a great time to encourage the rank-and-file members of our unions to join Pride at Work and participate in its activities and advocacy. Promoting diversity, encouraging openness, and ensuring the safety and dignity of all workers is central to Pride at Work and to our work in the labor movement.

Become a member of Pride at Work. Membership is open to all, not just LGBTQ+ people — Pride at Work doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Annual membership is $35, Sustaining Members contribute $5 per month, and Lifetime Memberships are available as well. Rank-and-file union members should also check with your union in case scholarships are available for Pride at Work and other constituency group membership.

Folks who become Pride at Work members (as I have) in Western Washington will be referred to local Pride at Work chapters in King County, Pierce County, or the new Southwest Washington chapter. Contact King County Chapter President Mike Andrew via email for more information.

Also, all union members are invited to join members of Pride at Work at the Seattle Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26 along 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle. This will be an in-person event – for the first time since 2019 – and Pride At Work has reserved a spot in the parade. Their labor family is invited to join in the fun! Bring banners and flags, wear your union colors, and meet on 4th Ave., between Seneca and Spring, on the west side of the street. Questions? Contact Mike Andrew at 206-261-8110 or via email.

I hope that all union members and all unions are joining me in recognizing and celebrating Pride Month, plus promoting membership in Pride at Work. More importantly, we must live our values of equity and inclusion every month.

 


Larry Brown is President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. The WSLC is the largest union organization in the state, representing the interests of more than 550,000 members in 600-plus union organizations. Learn more at wslc.org.

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