LGBT groups unite to support Employee Free Choice Act
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LGBT groups unite to support Employee Free Choice Act
Courtesy of Pride at Work

A broad coalition of national Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender organizations is gearing up to push for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would remove obstacles for workers who want union representation.

The LGBT organizations supporting the bill include some of the community's largest and most influential. They are: the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Pride at Work, AFL-CIO, National Stonewall Democrats, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, and, most recently, the Human Rights Campaign.

The bill, which is cosponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative George Miller, is high on the priority list of labor and its progressive allies for the incoming Obama administration. It passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin in 2007, but was blocked by a right-wing filibuster in the Senate.

"America's workers, who are already suffering badly from growing income inequality and declining benefits, badly need legislation that will ensure their right to organize by protecting them from bullying and intimidation by unscrupulous employers," said Jeremy Bishop, executive director of Pride at Work. "Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is vital if we are to rebuild middle-class living standards for working people in this country, and LGBT labor is committed to making that happen."

"The Task Force Action Fund strongly supports the Employee Free Choice Act. With our shared goals of equality and fairness, we stand with our allies in the labor community in support of workers' rights, as part of the larger progressive agenda," says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. "But our support for EFCA is not just based on our long history and alliance with the labor community. It is also about the rights of LGBT workers who so desperately need the protections that a union can provide. It is currently legal to fire someone in 30 states based on sexual orientation and 38 states based on gender identity; a union contract can provide critical job security for LGBT workers."

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said "Job security is vitally important to Transgender workers as well as to all others who suffer from employment discrimination. Helping workers to organize will help protect them from bias in the workplace."

"Stonewall Democrats strongly supports the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)," said Jon Hoadley, the group's executive director. "We have been organizing to build support for this crucial piece of pro-equality legislation for more than a year. Because of the efforts of unions, millions of Americans enjoy non-discrimination policies and equitable same-sex benefits at work. Even when our federal and state governments have been slow to act, workers organized through unions have proactively secured equal workplace protections through negotiating efforts.

"The Employee Free Choice Act would once again allow workers to freely organize, leading to increased protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans. EFCA should be a priority for our community in the upcoming 111th Congress and we will continue our work to make sure that this legislation becomes law," Hoadley added.

Pride At Work is the LGBT constituency organization of the AFL-CIO. It includes members of AFL-CIO and Change To Win unions as well as non-union allies. National Pride At Work can be contacted through the website Pride At Work in King County can be reached through Mike Andrew, Secretary-Treasurer, 206-261-8110.