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UFCW president pledges support for ENDA
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UFCW president pledges support for ENDA

Courtesy of - Pride At Work AFL-CIO

UFCW International President Joseph Hansen pledged at a Seattle conference that his union would endorse ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act giving federal protection to LGBT workers).

UFCW represents 1.3 million workers in the retail, grocery, and food processing industries. UFCW Local 21 is one of the largest union locals in Washington State, with over 35,000 members.

Hansen was in Seattle attending a UFCW 21 steward's conference at Seattle Center. At the end of the day-long conference, UFCW invited its community allies to a reception where Hansen spoke and took questions from the audience.

In response to a question from Pride At Work, Hansen said "Our Executive Board hasn't taken [ENDA] up, but I promise you when I get back [to UFCW headquarters in DC] I will bring it to the Executive Board. I think we should endorse it and I think we will endorse it."

UFCW leadership is drafting a letter on ENDA to be sent to members of the US House of Representatives, according to spokesperson Amber Sparks.

UFCW is currently campaigning for passage of healthcare reform - "with a strong public option," Hansen said - and the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) which would make it easier for workers who wanted a union to organize and win a first contract.

UFCW was also one of the earliest endorsers of Pres. Barack Obama. Like many UFCW locals, UFCW 21 sent staff out of state to campaign for Obama during the primaries and the general election.

Pride At Work spokesperson Mike Andrew also thanked UFCW 21 for their efforts on the Approve Referendum 71 Campaign. UFCW 21 is not only campaigning for its own members to approve the state's domestic partnership law, but has also made its phonebanking facilities available for use by Washington Families Standing Together.

UFCW 21 Director of Governmental Relations Sarah Cherin has also been assigned to put paid staff time into the campaign.

UFCW 21 President Dave Schmitz added, "We absolutely support equal domestic partnership benefits. We haven't gotten that in all our contracts, but we have won it in our grocery contracts and our hospital contracts. We will keep fighting for equal protection for all our members and all our families."

"UFCW represents many LGBT workers in the Seattle area," Andrew said, "and they clearly have put a lot of thought into what it means to represent LGBT workers. They've been outstanding on Referendum 71, and they will add weight to the campaign for ENDA."

Pride At Work is an LGBT labor organization. It is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, but it also includes members of Change To Win and independent unions. Pride At Work can be contacted at 206-261-8110 or OutFront.PrideAtWork@gmail.com.

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