Sunday, September 16, 2012


Pride At Work, AFL-CIO Holds Triennial “Boots on the Ground” Convention In Cleveland; Bess Watts Named to National Post

Cleveland, Ohio-- Pride At Work, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO, held their 2012 convention on September 12-15. The conference was highlighted by some big keynote speakers from the American Labor Movement, including AFSCME President Lee Saunders and the President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten.

This year, delegates said goodbye to Co-Presidents, Donna Cartwright and Stan Kiino and ushered in a very ambitious platform for what delegates and new officers call, “the fight of our lifetime.”
Delegates held executive board elections and selected a new slate of members this year, including Bess Watts from the Rochester & Finger Lakes Chapter. Watts was tapped as an executive vice president in charge of organizing.

The new 2012 national officers of Pride at Work, AFL-CIO are Co-Presidents Lori Pelletier (IAM) & Shane Larson (CWA), Co-VPs Gabriel Haaland (SEIU) & Shellea Allen (UNITE-HERE), VP of Organizing Bess Watts (PAW Rochester & Finger Lakes Chapter President & AFSCME), Secretary Tiffany Heath (TNG-CWA) and Treasurer Gregory King (AFSCME). 

At the convention, delegates passed several resolutions submitted by the national executive board. Most of the initiatives passed unanimously, among them a resolution to support DREAMers, a move to push for LGBT inclusive contracts and transgender health insurance plus the Paycheck Fairness Act. In addition to several business meetings and caucuses during the four-day conference, delegates attended social media workshops and networked with other workers from around the country. Besides New York, union members came from public and private sector chapters in Hawaii, Michigan, Illinois, California, Rhode Island and many other states.

On Saturday, Sept. 15, delegates kept their promise and put their “Boots on the Ground.” They flooded local Cleveland suburbs in a voter registration drive, which is seen as critical for a swing state like Ohio. The Buckeye state has experienced oppressive voter suppression laws that have recently passed the state legislature leaving tens of thousands of Ohioans purged from board of election files.

According to Watts, some of the major issues facing Pride At Work and LGBT workers include employment discrimination, obtaining LGBT inclusive contract language in collective bargaining agreements, Immigration and Family reunification efforts and of course, marriage equality for those states who are still trying to get the same basic protections enjoyed by their heterosexual co-workers. 

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