What Your Union Means To You

Pride Month

No matter who you love or your gender identity, your union has your back. We have no tolerance for hate in our movement.

The labor movement proudly celebrates Pride Month because everyone deserves to live and work as their full, authentic self.

Sadly, LGBTQ+ people still lack basic federal legal protections in the workplace; at the state level, protections vary. In 16 states and two territories, there’s no prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state law.

This leaves too many of America’s workers with no legal workplace protections whatsoever based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The best tool workers have to fight back is a union contract. Union contracts are legally enforceable in every state. They protect LGBTQIA+ workers from harassment, and can mean real progress for working people and our families to gain health care, savings, a future, and so much more. Check out some model contract language from our partners at Pride at Work.

We previously asked you to share what your union means to you as an LGBTQIA+ union member. Here are some stories by workers who are protected by a union contract and are LGBTQIA+ or union allies:

“Long before marriage equality, my union bargained for and got partnership benefits and has kept them for non-married couples after marriage equality was won in the courts.” 


“Trans students often reach out to me, and I offer them a safe space to talk. LGBTQ+ musicians often tell me that my simply existing in this role has helped them to see that their own aspirations are possible. If you don’t see yourself out there, you begin to doubt you can do it.”

Sasha Romero, Principal Trombone, American Federation of Musicians (AFM)

“Whenever I see a young person new to the union who feels comfortable being their whole self, and knowing that in some small way I helped create the space for them to do that, I can’t think of anything that makes me feel more pride as a queer IATSE member than that.”

Jenny Reeves, President, Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 849

“My union, the Operating Engineers, made it possible for me to learn a trade as a heavy construction equipment operator, through a bargaining agreement of an apprenticeship, which immediately led to a way out of poverty at the age of 21. I had experienced poverty and homelessness during part of my youth.

“Homophobia has been successfully used by employers as a tool to divide workers and destroy union organizing efforts. I’ve seen this tactic used when I was an active part of my union’s efforts, and it seems particularly effective in the construction industry.

“I fully support all efforts to fight oppression and promote freedom in every way possible. The labor movement is Inclusive of the fight against oppression in all other movements, for people of color, women and the gay community.”


“As an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have a strong conviction to be my authentic self, thus creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space for all people, just as my union does for me.”

Maria Perez, Executive Assistant/Communications Director, Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 30

“Having a union job means I can raise my teenage grandchild in relative comfort. I can adequately clothe and feed him as well as music lessons. I wake up each day knowing that even if I have a bad day or make a mistake at work, I will still have a job the next day. I spent decades looking for a job like this.”


Do you want to add your story?