New York City, September 8, 2008 – The New York State AFL-CIO in August passed three historic resolutions calling on the New York State Legislature to pass bills that provide marriage equality for same-sex couples, ban discrimination against transgender New Yorkers and provide a mechanism to end bullying and harassment of LGBT youth in public schools. All three resolutions passed without objection.
“Beyond doing the right thing, there is a very basic need for us as union leaders to actually lead on these issues,” said AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes.
Passage of these resolutions put the total membership of unions who support marriage equality at over 2.3 million in New York State. The total membership of unions supporting the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and Dignity for All Student Act now stands at 2.1 million working New Yorkers. The difference in number comes from SEIU1199, which has a membership of almost 230,000 and, while not a member of the Federation, had separately passed a resolution in June 2006 in support of marriage equality.
“The assumption that some people make about organized labor being silent or opposed to LGBT rights is just wrong,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle. “Organized labor has been and continues to be a powerful and vocal partner in moving these three important bills in Albany.”
The resolutions were introduced at the AFL-CIO’s Constitutional Convention by the Bricklayers union and the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). The Constitutional Convention—the only place where resolutions like these can be discussed and passed by delegations representing all member unions—happens only once every four years.
Major unions that are members of the New York State AFL-CIO include New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), DC 37, UNITE HERE and Public Employees Federation (PEF).