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Michigan AFL-CIO, Pride at Work Michigan Call for Expansion of Elliott-Larsen

For Immediate Release: June 4, 2019

Lansing – Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber and Pride at Work Michigan President Cynthia L. Thornton are calling on lawmakers to adopt legislation that would update the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Members of the Michigan House and Senate announced the introduction of the civil rights legislation earlier today.

“For the last 40 years, the AFL-CIO has supported adding protections for the LGBTQ community to federal law. Just last month the Michigan AFL-CIO reaffirmed our support for amending state law to include these protections as well,” said Bieber. “No one should be fired because of who they are or who they love, that’s a basic level of dignity all working people deserve. An injury to one is an injury to all. We’re proud to stand in solidarity with members of the LGBTQ community to advocate for passage of this legislation.”

Pride at Work is an affiliated constituency group of the AFL-CIO, that represents LGBTQ union members and their allies. The organization has more than 20 chapters nationwide, including Michigan, and coordinates mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBTQ Community to further social and economic justice.

“Pride at Work is dedicated to fighting for equality in the workplace and in the union hall–to protecting the freedoms of all LGBTQ+ working people and to lifting the veil of fear and hate that leads to high suicide rates in the LGBTQ+ Community and the disproportionate murder of transwomen of color. We have been working for the last 25 years to include strong nondiscrimination protections when union contracts are negotiated,” said Thornton. “Updating ELCRA to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity is long past due, if Michigan is to be open and welcoming to ALL–a place where businesses can thrive, and people don’t feel they must move elsewhere to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The Labor Movement’s support for nondiscrimination policies dates back at least as early as 1970 when the American Federation of Teachers became the first union to formally support LGBTQ Rights by passing a resolution denounceing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. The mutual support between the two movements strengthened in 1974 when LGBTQ Rights Activists and the Teamsters joined together in a  boycott of Coors over the beer company’s anti-union and anti-gay practices.

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