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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 26, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 17
CWA endorses Trans-inclusive health care
Section One
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CWA endorses Trans-inclusive health care

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Communication Workers of America union (CWA) passed a resolution at its just-completed National Convention supporting 'equal access to health care coverage' for Transgender workers.

CWA is the largest communications and media union in the country, with some 550,000 members in both private- and public-sector employment. In the Seattle area, CWA Local 7800 represents telephone employees, and CWA Local 37082 - the Newspaper Guild - represents workers at the Seattle Times, the Journal of Commerce, and other local papers.

The CWA National Convention had been urged to take action on Trans-related health care by Pride At Work, an LGBT labor organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO, of which CWA is also a part. Pride At Work co-president Shane Larson and former co-president Donna Cartwright are CWA members.

'CWA supports public and private Trans-inclusive health insurance coverage,' the union's resolution states, and 'CWA opposes exclusions of coverage for Transgender individuals.'

MANY DENIED COVERAGE
The union also pledged to support 'efforts to remove health insurance exclusions that prevent Transgender people from accessing medically necessary care and to ensure that quality health care coverage is available to everyone, including Transgender people.'

The CWA resolution noted that 'many Transgender people are denied health insurance when they disclose their Transgender status or transition-related medical history to a potential insurer.'

Because of steadily rising medical costs, health coverage is always one of the most hotly contested issues during contract negotiations between unions and employers.

Because most union members rely on employer-provided health insurance, and employers have an interest in reducing their insurance costs and eliminating what they see as 'unnecessary' expenses, 'most health insurance policies still specifically exclude Transgender-related care,' as the resolution states.

Nevertheless, 'many private- and public-sector employers and several International Unions currently provide Transgender-inclusive health care coverage.'

RECENT PROGRESS
In October 2011, the City of Seattle added coverage for Trans-related health care to their employee benefits package, with the support of the coalition of unions that represent City workers.

The state of Oregon followed suit in January this year, when state insurance regulators instructed insurance companies to stop denying coverage for transition-related procedures.

At the request of King County's Pride At Work chapter, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council (MLKCLC) will have a special presentation on Trans health care issues at its June delegates meeting. MLKCLC has previously passed resolutions affirming its support for equal treatment of Trans workers.

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