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Villaraigosa fighting to be California governor

And he’s counting on his LGBT friends to come through for him

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Antonio Villaraigosa at The Abbey in West Hollywood (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Antonio Villaraigosa saunters into The Abbey as if he lives next door. He’s relaxed, comfortable in West Hollywood’s gayborhood, as if visiting this second family is second nature. And in his very tight race to be the next governor of California, Villaraigosa is counting on his friends in the LGBT community to pull through for him in the June 5 primary so he can vie with another LGBT hero, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

But Villaraigosa concedes nothing in his embrace of marriage equality, Newsom’s signature 2004 historic moment for which he has won the hearts of many. In a recent 55-minute sit-down interview, Villaraigosa recalls the ease with which he vowed his early support for same-sex marriage.

It was 1994 and Villaraigosa was running for State Assembly from the 45th District that included Echo Park, Silver Lake, East Hollywood, and Highland Park. Eric Bauman, now the out Chair of the California Democratic Party, had just been elected president of Stonewall Democratic Club and was working to make it a key gay political organization in a year when radical right House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich was promoting the conservative “Contract with America.”

Villaraigosa—who was running against the closeted Brian Quintana—was brought to Stonewall seeking its endorsement by his cousin, John A. Perez, who then joined Stonewall himself. Villaraigosa was a progressive grassroots activist and organizer with a powerful personal story anxious to jump into politics.

Villaraigosa grew up in East LA during the 1950s and 1960s when sexism and homophobia pervaded the culture. “I think it’s prevalent in every community but in the Latino community, one could argue it was even more prevalent, more extreme in terms of sexism homophobia,” Villaraigosa says during a 55-minute interview.

“I grew up with a mom that was very progressive and a victim of domestic violence. I grew up in a home with alcoholism and a father who left three terrorized kids,” he says. “My mother was on her own and I watched her struggle to send us to school and get us the best she could. She emphasized education and keeping the family together. So I always had respect for strong women and I’ve been blessed to have strong women in my life.”

His grades fell in Catholic school after he was briefly paralyzed from the waist down from a benign tumor at 16 and was expelled after getting into a fight. But he found a passion—community organizing. “It started with the farm workers boycott at 15 years old, Villaraigosa recalls. “I never worked in the fields. I didn’t speak Spanish but I knew the workers had their right to a job with dignity and respect.”

It was the height of the Civil Rights Movement, with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. “And it was the challenge for the country to be all that held itself out to be. And I knew I had a responsibility, even at 15,” he says, noting that he got involved with or helped start a black union and United Mexican American students. He subsequently graduated from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights after taking adult education classes and getting counseling from a teacher he’s never forgotten, Herman Katz, who paid for Villaraigosa to take his SAT college exams.

In 1968, Villaraigosa was a leader in the mass Chicano student walkouts in East LA demanding school reforms and an end to academic bias. Like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Villaraigosa read Saul Alinsky to learn how to be a more effective social change leader.

From community college in East LA, Villaraigosa transferred to UCLA, where he became a leader in MEChA, a Chicano empowerment movement. He graduated in 1997 with a BA in history and then tried his hand at law, but failed the bar exam. Nonetheless, his legal knowledge served him as an organizer with the United Teachers Los Angeles, and later, as president of the LA Chapter of the ACLU.

In 1987, it was his idea to merge his last name Villar with that of his new wife Corina Raigosa after their marriage.

“I think what being a part of that civil rights movement was all about was saying that the forefathers had it right where we’re all created equal—except they also had it wrong,” Villaraigosa says. “They said it only meant white men. And we wanted to include women and blacks and Native Americans and people who didn’t come from Europe and maybe weren’t the landed class. I think the Civil Rights Movement, in many ways, was part of that effort to make—as President Obama said—to make America a more perfect union, to make it all that it has held itself out to be.”

In 1994, he left the Metropolitan Transportation Board to which he had been appointed to run for the Assembly. “Back then, there weren’t a whole lot of people that had come out of community organizing.”

But it was his mother who taught him to eschew sexism and homophobia. “In the 50s, we lived in a Jewish, Mexican neighborhood with Japanese-Americans. My mother had everyone over for dinner and we would go to their homes,” Villaraigosa says, naming friends and family who might have been gay.

“We grew up very open,” Villaraigosa says. “So it wasn’t difficult for me when at Stonewall, as I’m walking out after they’ve interviewed me for an hour, someone asked me ‘Do you support gay marriage? I said, ‘Well, actually, I never thought about it’ because back then they weren’t talking about it. We talked about civil unions. I said, ‘Why not.’”

And in 1994, riding in the CSW Pride Parade with your children was deemed courageous. “But I wanted to live true to my values.”

Antonio Villaraigosa running for Assembly in 1994 with Stonewall’s Eric Bauman (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Villaraigosa was elected to the Assembly, along with Sheila Kuehl, California’s first out legislator, and they instantly became allies, creating a gay caucus and working on legislation. Villaraigosa put his Speakership on the line to pass Kuehl’s Dignity for All Students bill, which failed but was later passed with help from Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg.

“I think I became Speaker in no small part because I was a bridge-builder and uniter,” he says. “People forget, but back in the day, everybody was on their own side. So it was a big deal.”

In trying to find common ground, Villaraigosa would sometimes refer to his children and how his love for them was more important than their sexual orientation. And when gay adoption was discussed on the legislative floor, Villaraigosa would describe how his gay cousin John played with his kids, and how much they loved him.

Villaraigosa did more than talk and promise. In 2000, he became chair of the No on Prop 22 campaign, the effort to stop the anti-gay marriage Knight Initiative. He contributed $10,000 of his own money to the failed effort.

Villaraigosa ran for LA City Council in 2003 and then mayor in 2005. His second bloc of voters after Latinos for that historic election was the LGBT community, support he has never forgotten. But the elation of his shattering the electoral glass ceiling as the first Latino mayor in 130 years was deflated when he was discovered having an affair with a reporter. In 2007, his wife filed for divorce.

“People did feel deflated, demoralized,” he says. “When I had my affair outside of marriage, I think it let people down. And when we got divorced, people felt hurt. I took responsibility and I said I’m sorry. I was focused mostly on trying to heal my family….[and] I became almost maniacal in my effort to do my job over 18 hours a day, seven days a week. I was focused on the challenges ahead.”

As mayor, Villaraigosa tried to reform the school system, advocating for charter schools, which prompted progressive school educators and unions to scream. “First of all, I don’t support for-profit charters, which would be not public. I support public non-profit charters. And more importantly, I support free schools,” he says.

Villaraigosa says he got involved after he turned around and saw that “everybody certainly looks just like me. And I said the role of the first is to open up the door for the rest. And I knew that a big reason why so many people were serving me was that schools were broken. One out of three schools were failing,” he says. “I took on the schools and we went from a 44 percent graduation rate to 72 percent,” from the one in three failing schools to one out of 10.

“So when powerful interests voices on the other side said their number one priority was to pass a moratorium on charters,” Villaraigosa replied: “I want a moratorium on failing schools. Let’s celebrate successful schools.” In the end, “I was willing to say no to powerful interests,” though other powerful interests favoring charter schools, such as former Republican Mayor Richard Riordan, now support him.

If elected governor, Villaraigosa intends to immediately call a special emergency legislative session to address the housing and homeless crisis. “I’ve always understood that to whom much is given, much is expected.”

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Los Angeles

Delivering justice and equity, Jasmyne Cannick has ‘the receipts’

This fight is about getting justice for Ed Buck’s victims & also calling out all of the people along the way who failed them & enabled him

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Jasmyne Cannick (Photo Credit: JayBeez)

LOS ANGELES – In the world of popular culture the use of the slang phrase ‘has the receipts‘ translates to bringing proof that someone was/is lying. Conversely it also is used to define that a person is being genuine.

Over the past several years as the crimes committed by West Hollywood resident and political activist Ed Buck, as he preyed on Black men were made public, the person holding the receipts was journalist turned advocate Jasmyne Cannick.

Frustrated and angered by what she perceived as lack of serious engagement by local law enforcement in the initial stages of the investigation into the death of  26-year-old Gemmel Moore, Cannick rallied the community and publicly called out law enforcement to take more aggressive action.

She orchestrated and led a grass-roots effort to get the criminal justice system of Los Angeles to listen to Gemmel’s mother LaTisha Nixon’s plea for justice. She used Gemmel’s own words, written in his journal to alert authorities to the depths of the debauchery occurring inside that second floor flat in West Hollywood. She pleaded with law enforcement including the District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles Jackie Lacey to take action.

Her activism and fueling the rage of the greater community finally received the attention of Federal law enforcement and action that culminated in Buck’s arrest and the trial.

She stood by the families even as to the horror of many, another Black man died nearly two years after Gemmel (2017) in January of 2019 and like that young life snuffed out too early, Timothy Dean, 55, was found deceased on the trash strewn floor of Buck’s flat.

“The lives of Black gay men matter — no matter if they’re homeless, survival sex workers or escorts — this is a case that transcends race, class, wealth. Our lives matter, our community matters, and just because someone is unhoused, an addict, may be a survival sex worker, or an escort, or HIV positive does not mean their lives don’t matter and we should look the other way when they show up dead in a white Democratic donor’s home.” ~ Jasmyne Cannick.

In her owns words Cannick writes after the jury delivered guilty verdicts on nine separate federal counts; “It’s been a long four years on this road for justice–justice that a guilty verdict would be but one small part off.  Real justice is making sure that this never ever happens again.  We can’t do that with the enabling parties still acting like Ed Buck didn’t happen”

She adds, “Ed Buck only got away with it for so long because he was white and because we still don’t believe Black victims–even when they tell us what happened to them.

Gemmel Moore told us in his diary, “Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of chrystal [sic] meth. It was very painful.”

Buck was not all that he was portrayed as in the media, but he parlayed his influence, funneled through donations from others, and did ingratiate himself into the Democratic party in California over the years. There is plenty of photographic evidence to substantiate those claims to fame showing Buck rubbing elbows with politicians from all quarters.

Worse though was that rumours of Buck’s fetishes were well known and yet even after the death of Gemmel Moore there seemed to be a collective shrugging of shoulders and zero calls for accountability. Cannick however, wasn’t having it.

“Former district attorney Jackie Lacey was sitting on a mountain of evidence and still did nothing to prosecute Ed Buck for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean,” she said.

Appearing on BNC’s Black News Tonight anchored by journalist Marc Lamont Hill last week,  Cannick told Hill that the case intersected race and sexual orientation.

“As much as this case is about Ed Buck, it’s also about our housing crisis, and what it makes people feel they have to do — play Russian roulette with their lives just to have a roof over their heads,” she stressed.

Cannick is not just a gadfly community activist, in fact far from it. She is a powerful voice for those who have had no voice reminding people that Buck happened because the community allowed him to happen.

In her own words she points out, “Paul Koretz, a candidate for Controller in 2022, who is backed by the Black Democratic establishment and has taken thousands from Ed Buck, told a group that Buck’s victims were all “disadvantaged Black hustlers.”

“So while this fight is as much about getting justice for Ed Buck’s victims it’s also about calling out all of the people and entities along the way who failed them and enabled Ed Buck. Not doing so ensures a repeat of this situation because Ed Buck isn’t the only Ed Buck,” she pointed out. “Entities like the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department who many of Ed Buck’s victims said didn’t take their complaints about Ed Buck seriously.”

“But even though Ed Buck’s crimes have been made public throughout his trial, not much has changed.  The silence in Los Angeles’ is deafening.  If I wasn’t sitting in the courtroom myself, I probably wouldn’t know the trial was happening.  

There’s been no mention of the trial or justice for Ed Buck’s victims from the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, California Democratic Party, Stonewall Democratic Club, or any of the dozens of elected officials he gave his money to,” she noted.

In a conversation with the Blade on Monday Cannick said that the next phase for her advocacy is to seek financial compensation for Buck’s victims. But beyond that is challenging community leaders and elected officials to address the very causes of what gave Buck ready access to the disadvantaged Black men in the first place; homelessness and helping the unhoused is her top priority.

She also serves now as an elected “At-Large” member of the leadership team of the Stonewall Democratic Club, the very place where Buck donated sums of money and rubbed elbows with Democratic Party leadership who gave Buck credibility and status.

For now there are some community leaders who are stepping up to acknowledge Cannick’s holding the receipts including the City Council and Mayor of West Hollywood who honoured her community work during a regularly scheduled Council meeting Monday.

West Hollywood Mayor Linsey Horvath tweeted afterwards, “Thank YOU for your fearless leadership in pursuit of truth and justice, @Jasmyne Our community is safer, and survivors have more confidence that they will be heard & believed, because of you.”

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California

Following Newsom’s vaccination measures, California employers follow suit

We will work with the governor on additional ways we can help encourage vaccines without negatively impacting economic recovery

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Los Angeles Blade Graphic

SACRAMENTO – Throughout the past week, some of California’s largest employers – both private businesses and local governments – have followed Governor Newsom’s lead in implementing vaccine and testing measures for employees. After California implemented new vaccine verification and testing requirements for state and health care workers on Monday, and with President Biden following suit this past Thursday, employers have implemented similar measures for thousands of employees throughout the state.

  • City of Los Angeles: “Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced today that they would push for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for City employees, beginning with a requirement that workers either submit proof of vaccination or a weekly negative test.”
  • City of San Francisco: “City officials said that the requirement would promote safety in municipal workplaces and among the general public, given that police officers, firefighters, building inspectors and other city workers come into regular contact with members of the community. ‘With those two things in mind — the safety of our employees and the safety of the public we serve — we made this decision,’ said Carol Isen, San Francisco’s director of human resources. ‘We believe this step is a simple one to take. It’s safe, it’s very effective, and it’s going to guarantee the safety of all.’”
  • San Diego County: “The County will begin requiring its employees to verify COVID-19 vaccination or undergo regular testing. Details being worked out but implementation expected by mid-August. Vaccination is the key to fully and safely reopening the economy.”
  • City of Long Beach: “We are announcing today that all @LongBeachCity employees will need a mandatory vaccination or be required to show a weekly negative COVID-19 test. Thank you to the 72% of employees who are already vaccinated. It’s important that public institutions model responsible leadership. I strongly support Governor @GavinNewsom’s action to do the same for state employees. The standard for those who serve the public must follow the best science available. I hope that cities and counties across the state will take similar actions. It’s time we beat this pandemic.”
  • Google: “‘Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,’ Mr. Pichai wrote. He added that the vaccine mandate would apply to U.S. office locations ‘in the coming weeks’ and to other regions ‘in the coming months.’”
  • Facebook: “‘As our offices reopen, we will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our US campuses to be vaccinated,’ VP of People Lori Goler said in a statement. ‘How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations.’”
  • Netflix: “Netflix has become the first major studio to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for its U.S. productions. The move comes after studios and Hollywood unions last week finalized an agreement that allows producers to require vaccines for the people who are potentially at highest risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19 on set: actors and the crew who work most closely with them. Netflix was particularly quick to implement the policy. More major studios are expected to follow in the coming weeks as they work out the challenging logistics of overhauling their approaches to pandemic safety on set.”
  • Lyft: “As of August 2, all employees working in Lyft’s offices are required to be vaccinated, according to an email Lyft (LYFT) CEO Logan Green sent to staffers that was viewed by CNN Business.”
  • Uber: “Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) is pushing back its back-to-office date to late October globally, and all employees in the United States will have to be fully vaccinated before returning to office, a spokesperson said on Thursday.”
  • California Business Roundtable: “The governor’s approach will allow economic recovery to continue while redoubling efforts to encourage vaccinations. From the beginning of the pandemic, the business community has been a partner with the governor and public health officials by implementing mitigation protocols and testing, hosting vaccination clinics, communicating the need to get vaccinated, promoting the vaccine through its own PSA, and offering incentives to employees and customers. We will continue to look to work with the governor on additional ways we can help encourage vaccines without negatively impacting employment opportunities or our economic recovery at this critical stage, while paying special attention to continued outreach to Black and Latino communities, of which 51 percent and 49 percent remain unvaccinated, respectively.”
    • The coalition includes:
      • California Business Properties Association
      • California Hotel and Lodging Association
      • California Manufacturers and Technology Association
      • California Retailers Association
      • California Restaurant Association
      • Orange County Business Council
      • Los Angeles County BizFed
      • Central Valley BizFed
      • Inland Empire Economic Partnership

Here’s what health, labor, and other local leaders have also said about Governor Newsom’s vaccine and testing measures:

  • California Hospital Association President & CEO Carmela Coyle: “The new public health order announced today by Gov. Newsom will help ensure that California remains ahead of the curve in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The unfortunate reality is that COVID-19 is again on the rise nationally, and in California, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. It is imperative that we all do everything possible to protect patients and our communities from COVID-19 illnesses and death. Everyone should get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective — and they are free. The evidence is clear — vaccination against COVID-19 has prevented people from becoming seriously ill, requiring hospitalization, or dying from the virus, as well as spreading it to others. To date, 75% of eligible Californians have received at least one dose, with minimal side effects. Requiring health care settings, including hospitals, to verify the vaccination status of all health care workers — and to expect those who are unvaccinated to wear masks and be tested regularly — are important and necessary steps that must be taken in this extraordinary situation. The Governor’s announcement is essential to keeping patients and those who care for them safe.”
  • California Primary Care Association Vice President & Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mike Witte: “The California Primary Care Association supports twice weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated healthcare workers. The science is clear: the vaccines work, and they are safe. Over 97% of people seriously sick or dying from COVID-19 viral infections are unvaccinated. This trend is completely preventable with increased vaccination, to the point of herd immunity of our population, when we can begin to look at the pandemic ending. Twice weekly PCR testing for all unvaccinated healthcare workers fits the model for good prevention: accessible, accurate, inexpensive and easy to administer. This is an important addition to prevention of COVID-19 infections. CPCA is in full support.”
  • Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President/CEO Jodi Hicks: “Once again, the state of California is leading by example, using data, and following best scientific practices to protect millions of people from COVID-19. We commend Governor Newsom for today’s announcement: implementing a vaccination verification system for employees in high-risk environments – a critical step in helping curb the recent uptick in spread across the state and get us back on track. Planned Parenthood continues to work closely with providers and government officials across the state to ensure access remains equitable and the communities hardest hit by the pandemic have access to correct information about the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and Planned Parenthood will continue to encourage every Californian who can to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
  • California Medical Association President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., M.D.: “Throughout this crisis, health care workers have been a source of strength, sacrifice and perseverance. Ensuring all of us are vaccinated against COVID-19 sends a strong message that the safety of our patients and our colleagues is top priority. It is a duty that comes with our responsibility as people who care for others. We can all do more to keep each other safe, and health care workers in particular have a moral and ethical obligation to do all we can to protect our patients. When someone comes into a health care setting, they deserve to know the medical personnel who care for them are doing everything in their power to keep them safe. Ensuring that all health care workers are protected against COVID-19 will help put patients at ease and will help us bring this deadly pandemic to an end. So many physicians, nurses and medical workers have sacrificed so much over this last 18 months. We know what this virus can do. Many of us have witnessed the devastation first-hand. After going through so much, it is heartbreaking to see cases rise once again, especially when we have vaccines that can stop the spread of this deadly disease. We’ve come too far to ease up now in our fight against COVID-19. It makes sense for the health care community to lead the way in requiring vaccines for our employees. We will continue to do all we can to help convince all Californians that vaccines are safe, effective and critical as we come together to bring this pandemic to an end.”
  • SEIU-UHW Executive Committee Member Gabe Montoya, EMT: “California’s frontline workers in health care and frontline jobs serving the public are growing increasingly concerned as the number of COVID-19 cases rises. We support Governor Newsom’s efforts to ensure vaccinations reach more Californians because these life-saving shots not only prevent death and grave illness from the virus but also prevent more dangerous variants from taking hold. Since this pandemic began, belonging to a union has given workers the strength we needed to speak up for our own safety and the communities we serve, from demanding PPE to creating the conditions for students to return to schools safely. For this reason, we will continue to bargain with our employers to ensure that implementation of the policy includes workers’ voices and push for recognition of all essential workers who have risked their lives during the pandemic.”
  • United Nurses Association of California/Union of Health Care Professionals President Denise Duncan, RN: “COVID-19 transmissions are high, we’re in a fourth surge, and we know that unvaccinated people are suffering the most. This is a forward-thinking order from Governor Newsom which will save lives by protecting patients and caregivers both. Our nurses and health care professionals are still reeling from the last year and a half of the pandemic, including staffing shortages. This is a proactive step to protect patients, workers, and the broader community.”
  • California Statewide Law Enforcement Association: “The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, which represents peace officers across the state, responded to the order by sending a message to members reiterating the state requirements and pledging to follow up on outstanding questions. ‘CSLEA is in the process of confirming that testing will be done at no cost to the employee and on State time and how employees will be compensated for self-quarantine if mandated to do so,’ the union said in a statement. … ‘Further, the State is not presently mandating proof of vaccine, though it would likely be legal if it did. Employees can elect to decline to provide proof of vaccination if they are willing to adhere to the masking and testing requirements,’ the union said in a memo to members.”
  • California Correctional Peace Officers Association: “Glen Stailey, the union’s president, said in a statement, Gov. ‘Newsom’s new vaccine policy is a reasonable compromise that we can get behind. It provides for regular testing at work for those who have chosen not to get vaccinated — this will prevent the spread of the virus among correctional officers and incarcerated individuals alike.’”
  • Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: “I support Gov. @GavinNewsom in requiring #Covid vaccination or regular testing of employees. I believe we should do the same in @TheCityofSac for the sake of our employees and customers.”
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California

Employees of statewide LGBTQ+ group Equality California form union

Employees at other progressive and LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations, including the ACLU and Lambda Legal have formed unions in recent years.

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Equality California staff volunteer for congressional candidate Christy Smith, March 2020 (Photo Credit: EQ Calif. Facebook)

LOS ANGELES – A supermajority of workers at Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, announced the formation of a union, Equality Unites, with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

In a letter sent via email Thursday, the staff urged Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur, who is leaving his post at the end of 2021, and Executive Director-designate Tony Hoang to voluntarily recognize their union, inclusive of all non-Director level employees.

The union organizers laid out issues that merit the need for the union and what is felt to be critical concerns including addressing employee hiring and retention — particularly among employees of color, trans, gender nonconforming and intersex people — salary, raise, and promotion transparency, guidelines around overtime and fair compensation, a healthy culture of feedback, and any decisions that impact their health, safety and lives.

Organizers also pointed out that the staff at the non-profit organization had exceeded all expectations and kept the organization afloat during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The organizers also want to ensure that all employees have a voice as the organization undergoes a change in and restructuring of leadership, as well as a shift in goals and mission.

“CWA Local 9003 is proud to welcome our newest bargaining unit, Equality Unites,” said CWA Local 9003 President Marisa Remiski. “We are urging management to voluntarily recognize them and CWA Local 9003 as their Union. We look forward to working together!”

Late Thursday afternoon Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur and Executive Director-designate Tony Hoang responded in a written statement;

“This morning, Equality California received notice from our employees that they intend to organize a collective bargaining unit and a request that we voluntarily recognize it. As a progressive civil rights organization, Equality California has always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with unions in support of workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain,” the statement read.

“We remain fully committed to these pro-worker values, and we intend to support our employees’ organizational efforts and voluntarily recognize a bargaining unit. We look forward to continuing to provide a supportive and equitable environment for all of our employees and to working collaboratively with them going forward,” Zbur and Hoag added.

Zbur and Hoang’s voluntary recognition of the union is significant. Employers often resist efforts to unionize by forcing employees to vote or engaging in other practices to dissuade workers from organizing.

But the outgoing and incoming executive directors of the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization immediately made clear that they have no intent to do so, and instead will support the employees’ efforts.

Employees at other progressive and LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations, including the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the Center for Reproductive Rights, have formed unions in recent years.

Throughout the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, labor unions have played an important role in advocating for LGBTQ+ Americans. In 2007, Pride at Work — an official constituency of the AFL-CIO — signed onto an amicus brief in support of marriage equality in In re marriage cases.

Unions like the Communications Workers of America, California Teachers Association, United Food and Commercial Workers, and more staunchly opposed California Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which sought to prohibit marriage equality.

More recently, unions have played a crucial part in advancing protections for LGBTQ+ workers, including the overwhelming 90% of union support for the Equality Act (H.R. 5) and celebration of the historic Supreme Court decision in Bostock, which affirmed that LGBTQ+ workers are protected from discrimination under federal law.

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