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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 31, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 31
Unions endorse Trans-inclusive health care coverage
Section One
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Unions endorse Trans-inclusive health care coverage

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Washington State Labor Council (WSLC), an organization representing most of the state's labor unions, has endorsed Transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, and promised that unions will bargain for it in future contract negotiations.

WSLC delegates passed a resolution titled 'Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Health Care Equality' on July 25 at their annual convention.

In the resolution, WSLC notes that Trans and gender non-conforming people often 'have great difficulty securing affordable, comprehensive health care and their situation is compounded by systematic discrimination and health care providers' lack of basic cultural competency on transgender issues.'

Lack of insurance coverage because of such discrimination 'can cause and/or aggravate additional serious and expensive health problems,' the resolution adds.

Many Trans people lack health insurance altogether, even after Obamacare was passed, and those that have it often report that their policies exclude medically necessary transition-related procedures.

In its resolution, the WSLC committed to three things:

o That 'the WSLC and affiliated unions remove any and all discriminatory health care exclusions directed toward Transgender employees and the employees' dependents from its health care policy.'

o That 'the WSLC advocates for Transgender-inclusive health care for its members and members' dependents during bargaining with employers.'

o That 'the WSLC and its affiliated unions publicly support and advocate for legislation supporting equal access to health care for Transgender and gender non-conforming peoples and a ban on any and all discrimination against Transgender and gender non-conforming peoples by health care providers.'

The resolution was originally submitted by UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) Local 21, one of the state's largest and most progressive unions. Veterans of the R-74 campaign for marriage equality will remember that Washington United for Marriage - the pro-equality umbrella group - was housed in UFCW 21's Georgetown union hall.

Marsha Botzer, founder of Ingersoll Gender Center, attended the convention as a delegate for Pride At Work, the LGBT labor organization.

'Thank you for this resolution,' she told the other delegates. 'Without health there can be no work, no labor, and no labor movement.'

Another important resolution committed WSLC to appoint a special committee to discuss institutionalized racism in the labor movement and come up with recommendations to deal with it. Delegates also passed a resolution titled 'Climate and Jobs,' which endorsed the state's carbon emission reduction goals.

Other highlights of the convention included speeches by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Congressman Adam Smith (D-9).

Constantine recalled that the city of SeaTac, the site of the convention, was also the first city in the country to pass a $15 per hour minimum wage law.

Smith, who represents a district that stretches from Madison Street south to Federal Way and east to Bellevue, got a hero's welcome because he voted against fast track authority for the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade deal, a measure unions oppose.

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