USW Encourages Solidarity, Virtual Pride Celebrations During the Pandemic: Ken Neumann Statement for Pride Month 2020

As a union dedicated to social justice, the USW supports equity-seeking groups in our union, our workplaces and in society. In June, Steelworkers join with LGBTQ2SIA+ communities across the world to celebrate Pride Month.

In Canada this year, the COVID-19 pandemic means that large public events such as Pride parades and other celebrations have been cancelled. In addition, social distancing restrictions extend to small businesses such as restaurants and bars, which are often gathering places for social celebration.

Another reality of this pandemic is that equity-seeking groups are among the most affected communities. Discrimination and acts of hate are on the rise, while access to good jobs and community support programs is becoming harder. The LGBTQ2SIA+ community already experiences higher levels of violence and economic insecurity, now only made worse by COVID-19.

As a union, we have created increased protections  for LGBTQ2SIA+ members. The USW Constitution now recognizes gender identity as a ground of equality. This is a significant step that strengthens human rights protection for our membership. We bargain anti-harassment language and programs in our workplaces, and help negotiate accommodation for members who transition gender.

To support LGBTQ2SIA+ Steelworkers and communities, I urge you to:

  • Search for details of virtual Pride events in your community and take part in them. For events in our larger cities, keep informed through Pride Toronto https://www.pridetoronto.com, Vancouver Pride http://www.vancouverpride.ca, and Pride Montreal https://fiertemtl.com/en/
  • Create and support a Human Rights Committee in your local union to ensure the employer’s compliance with updated human rights legislation, particularly during this time of the pandemic
  • Support political parties who work for equality at the federal and provincial levels of government
  • Be safe, and be kind to one another

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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