A Better Balance was honored last week to travel to Phoenix and attend Pride @ Work’s Triennial Convention, a gathering of LGBTQ union members and their allies from across the country. The 2018 convention, entitled “Proud and Powerful,” provided an important space for labor organizers and partners to learn, reflect, and plan future work that will strengthen unions and workplaces across the country.
A Better Balance was also honored to present a workshop entitled, “Winning (and Defending!) Inclusive Paid Leave and Nondiscrimination Protections.” Included on the panel were Lauren Kuby, Vice Mayor of the City of Tempe, Molly McGovern, Legislative Director of the UFCW 99, and Carl Charles, a staff attorney with A Better Balance’s LGBTQ Rights Project. The panel participants discussed the importance of inclusive family definitions in paid sick time laws and union contracts, and they used Arizona—which passed a statewide paid sick time law by a large margin in November 2016—as an example of the successes and challenges inherent to inclusive paid sick time campaigns. In addition to discussing this legislative victory, panelists addressed how the Arizona State Legislature has taken extreme steps to block economic justice measures and interfere with—or “preempt”—local laws and policies on a range of issues. Together, workshop participants talked about how broad coalitions made up of progressive partnerships from a range of social justice movements are some of the best ways to counter this growing opposition.
Many audience members shared experiences of surprise and frustration in learning that—under their employer’s policies and laws where they live—they cannot use paid sick time to care for relatives like their son- or daughter-in-law, siblings, and other key relationships. They also echoed the importance of chosen family, or close loved ones who do not share a biological or legal relationship, especially among LGBTQ people who may not have a partner or spouse. Overall, the conference was an especially important moment to act in solidarity with our partners in the labor movement following the Supreme Court’s anti-worker rights decision in Janus v. AFSCME earlier this summer. A Better Balance looks forward to continuing to support the important organizing power of Pride @ Work and their LGBTQ and ally union membership.