The American Federation of Government Employees held its first annual Gay Pride Training Summit in Pittsburg. Organizers of the summit provided union activists with training and tools to fight discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees in the workplace.
“For far too long issues facing LGBT workers have been pushed to the side,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “As the leading labor union for federal and D.C. government workers, AFGE is committed to actively fighting on behalf of our LGBT brothers and sisters, and fostering a space where all members are welcomed and motivated to participate in the growth of our union.”
AFGE, the largest union of federal workers, also hopes that the summit will encourage more LGBT members to become union leaders.
With this in mind, the summit included a session on developing leadership skills for union building and for effectively representing all workers.
AFGE National Vice-President for Women’s and Fair Practices Augusta Y. Thomas said that LGBT workers face an array of daunting challenges and that it’s the union’s and union member’s responsibility to stand up to these challenges. Some of these challenges take place out of the workplace and require the union to take a stand against discrimination in and out of the workplace.
“The issues facing our LGBT brothers and sisters on the job are very serious and it is our responsibility to represent workers equally,” said Thomas. “In a majority of states in this country workers can be legally discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. This is unjust and absolutely a cause to be taken up by the union. This training arms our labor activists with the tools they need to represent and provide an inclusive environment for LGBT members.”
In addition to hearing presentation by leaders of AFGE, those at the summit heard presentations from Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Executive Director Gregory Cendana, Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis, and Pride at Work Executive Director Darren Phelps.