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Hotel and restaurant workers say "Decline to Sign"
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Hotel and restaurant workers say "Decline to Sign"
UNITE HERE Local 8, which represents hotel and food service workers in western Washington, has endorsed the "Yes! Decline to Sign" campaign.

UNITE HERE nationally represents almost a million workers and retirees in the hospitality, food service, textile, and clothing industries, including large concentrations of LGBT workers.

UNITE HERE 8 joins AFGE 3937, UFCW 21, and SEIU 775 in rejecting right-wing efforts to repeal equality for same-sex domestic partners. UNITE HERE's international union has gone considerably beyond many other unions in its advocacy of equal rights for the LGBT community.

In March 2008, the union's General Executive Board unanimously adopted a resolution calling for marriage equality. The resolution promised that UNITE HERE would "support the rights of LGBT individuals and couples against discrimination in all areas including employment, housing and civil marriage."

The resolution went on to say that "civil union and domestic partnership laws, however well intentioned, create an unequal legal status for same-sex couples and their families."

In February 2007, UNITE HERE 8 won historic contract language which explicitly protects Transgender workers after an eight-month struggle with the Westin Hotel. It was believed to be the first hotel contract in the country to include protections for "gender identity, expression and characteristics."

This language has since become standard in Local 8's contracts. While many union contracts include language barring employers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, relatively few offer explicit protection for Transgender workers.

Local 8 was also one of 32 labor organizations signing on to amicus briefs supporting marriage equality in the 2006 Andersen v Sims case. In Andersen, the Washington Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples do not have a right to marriage in this state.

Local 8's action last week came at the request of Pride At Work, the AFL-CIO's LGBT constituency organization. Pride At Work includes members of AFL-CIO, Change To Win, and independent unions, as well as non-union allies. It is a founding member of Washington Families Standing Together, the campaign formed to protect the domestic partnership rights passed by the state legislature this year.

Pride At Work can be contacted at 206-261-8110 or OutFront.PrideAtWork@gmail.com.

Courtesy of Pride At Work AFL-CIO
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