AFI-CIO changes its constitution to protect transgender workers

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The country’s largest labor federation announced that it would amend its constitution to add a stipulation that bans discrimination based on gender expression or gender identity.

The constitution now reads: “To encourage all workers without regard to race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to share equally in the full benefits of union organization.”

With the decision made on September 9, the AFL-CIO will thus ban transgender discrimination, benefitting nearly sixty national and international unions totaling over twelve million workers.

“The labor movement has long been a leader on full inclusion in the workplace,” said Human Rights Campaign Vice President Fred Sainz in a press release. “This important addition to the governing document of the largest federation of labor unions is a historic and important step forward to ensuring that every American has an equal shot at employment and equal benefits.”

HRC and the National Center for Transgender Equality aim to pass the federal legislation as well as passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“Very exciting,” the executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling, said in a press release. “Labor has really been stepping up, and the AFL-CIO has been stepping up. “One of the things I feel is really interesting about it is that words mean something. And the way this is worded, it really is why we do the antidiscrimination thing. That’s what we want is for everyone to be able to share equally. I think it says it just right, and the folks who have been working on it—Donna Cartwright, [SEIU’s] Gabriel Haaland, [CWA’s] Shane Larson—are just superstars.”

DC-Baltimore Pride at Work stressed the experiences transgender workers live through.

“Statistics around the experiences of transgender workers tell a staggering story,” DC-Baltimore Pride at Work secretary Donna Cartwright. “We applaud passage of the resolution that moves this country’s workers forward in protecting all workers.”

The rest of Pride Work called the decision “a great day in our movement” through social media. “The AFL-CIO and its millions of members work hard to improve wages and working conditions for all Americans, and they are squarely on our side as transgender and gay workers fighting for a fair shot at the American Dream,” said Freedom to Work president Tico Almeida in a press statement. “We are particularly grateful for the leadership of [Communications Workers of America] President Larry Cohen, who introduced the proposal, and our LGBT brothers and sisters at Pride at Work.”

Unfortunately, a second proposal regarding transgender-inclusive healthcare did not pass.

“[The resolution was] unable to move forward at this time due to technicalities, but will be reintroduced at a later meeting of labor leaders,” DC Baltimore Pride at Work said.

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