Jennifer is a Social Services Assistant for the Department of Defense in Washington State. She is also a member of AFGE Local 1504 and services as a District 11 YOUNG Representative and Committee Secretary.
Historically, there are numerous instances where it was labor that took the first stand to say equal rights for all workers, regardless of gender or sexual orientation; to include preventing workers from being barred from their choice of employment due to their sexual orientation and calling for laws to enforce the same.
Discrimination and disparaging treatment on this or any other basis have no place in a workplace, and labor rights activists have a long history of championing these issues in order to ensure a safe and inclusive and work environment free from undue hardship.
Personally, it was within my own local union where I first saw the discrimination and fear that LGBTQ workers still faced, and it was the union that they came to and trusted to be an ally and a fight on their behalf.
The creation of the national PRIDE program within AFGE has been a significant change, and I think it is a great first step in raising awareness about the fact that we as labor are, have always been and now more than ever must continue to be fierce allies to workers no matter who they love, how they dress or what pronouns they use. It is work, and our collective right to work without harassment or fear that binds us.
In terms of labor, I believe that as allies, it is our duty to be a resource for all workers as well as a defensive against abusive management, discriminatory and/or unconstitutional policies and laws that seek to restrict the rights of any of our brothers or sisters.
In order to be an effective ally, I may not need to always understand or agree with what someone is saying or experiencing, but knowing that everyone has a right to be treated with dignity, and to have access to make decent wages and purse happiness no matter what that looks like for them. That is what matters.
I take a great deal of pride in my work, in the services I am able to provide to my community. I have pride in my family, and knowing that my work helps create a better future for them, as well as setting an example of what it looks like to take a stand in what you believe in.