Steel Worker Union Votes to Protect LGBT Mill Employees

While other industries have made great strides, steel mills remain areas with issues, but change may be coming. The mills of the steel industry remain amongst the worst places to work if you are LGBT.

Yet what governments, state and federal, have been unable or unwilling to do, steelworker unions might. According to the Windy City Times Media Group, steel workers in Gary, Indiana started to take notice of the plight of their LGBT coworkers after former Indiana University Northwest scholar and lecturer Anne Balay released her book Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Steelworkers. She told WCT that with her support and help crafting the necessary language, the Gary steel workers set about approaching their local unions in order to make LGBT protections an important part of the collectively negotiated contracts.

One of them went to their local [union] steward, and the local president, and then to a civil rights coordinator and a bunch of meetings ... and the language of their contract went through [with protections]. And it got everyone else excited ... there seems to be a positive feeling that once the resolution gets to the convention that it'll get wide support.

One of these local unions has already voted almost unanimously in favor of protecting their LGBT steelworkers.

The broader organisation, United Steelworkers International, is likely to seriously consider the issue of making LGBT protections a priority nationally at its Aug. 11 meeting. The annual meeting allows modifications to policies and acts as a constitutional convention for major changes to the organisation's priorities.

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