Throughout the twentieth century and continuing into the modern era, labor unions in the United States have advocated for the members’ rights within and outside of the workplace. Labor unions are uniquely positioned to further advocate for the rights of marginalized people because they exist as regulatory bodies outside of governmental structures and derive their power from their membership. Looking specifically at equality for LGBTQ+ employees, labor unions have consistently been ahead of the rest of America. As early as the 1930’s ,unions with substantial queer membership were strong advocates for fair and equal treatment within the workplace. ‘Queer work,’ or jobs that are held primarily by queer individuals, provide unique avenues for advocacy, as the majority interests within the union are the minority interests outside of it. In other unions, smaller coalitions of queer workers pushed the policies and politics further to the left, eventually having national impact. The queer communities within labor unions propelled a new idea of equality at work that shaped the labor movement throughout the twentieth century.
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Riley, Shanan '23
"Queer Americans and Unions: Redefining Equality at Work,"
Zeitgeist: A Journal of Politics, History, and Philosphy: Vol. 2023:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.imsa.edu/zeitgeist/vol2023/iss1/2