A new report by the UCLA Labor Center and UFCW OUTreach highlights the important role that unions play in creating safer and more equitable workplaces for LGBTQ+ workers in the U.S. and Canada.
The report, titled Union Values and LGBTQ+ Worker Experiences: A Survey of UFCW Workers in the United States and Canada, includes a survey of 1,004 UFCW members, one-third of whom identified as LGBTQ+, in regions across the U.S. and Canada.
Three-quarters of survey participants said their local union takes concrete actions to support LGBTQ+ workers and 70 percent said LGBTQ+ workers are protected by their union contracts. In addition, 68 percent of survey participants said it should be a top priority for unions to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation on the job.
“The union has the power to address systemic inequities that affect LGBTQ+ workers by utilizing collective bargaining agreements, as well as educational training that increases awareness of the urgency to improve the workplace for LGBTQ+ members,” said UFCW OUTreach Chair Michele Kessler.
“When direct actions are taken by union leaders, workplaces are safer for LGBTQ+ members,” said Jean Tong, a union representative for UFCW Local 770. “Equally important is the thoughtful work our union has done to expand leadership opportunities for LGBTQ+ workers to participate in the decision-making process.”
While the survey respondents generally support LGBTQ+ workers’ rights and contract protections, the study also explores the ongoing on-the-job challenges LGBTQ+ workers face.
“Nearly a quarter of LGBTQ+ workers reported being harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and 43 percent had heard negative comments or stereotypes in their current workplace,” said Sid Jordan, a co-author of the report and a researcher at the UCLA Labor Center. “This points to the cultural and structural changes that will be needed to give meaning to nondiscrimination policies.”
The full report is available here.