One Day Before Major Senate Vote, Key Massachusetts Unions Back Transgender Protections Bill
May 11, 2016

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Just one day before the Massachusetts Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on legislation extending full protections in public spaces to transgender Bay Staters, major labor unions across the Commonwealth have announced their support.

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Today, 11 labor unions and organizations—including AFL-CIO, Massachusetts Teachers Association, and 1199SEIU—representing a total of 700,000 Massachusetts families delivered a letter to lawmakers calling for swift passage of legislation updating the state’s public accommodation law to prohibit gender identity discrimination. This announcement comes as 1199SEIU hosts a lobby day today at the state house in support of this and other bills. You can read the full letter to lawmakers here.

“Our Commonwealth’s workers should be treated with dignity and respect not only on the job, but also when they are customers at the very restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other public accommodations where they work,” said former State Senator Steven A. Tolman, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state. “This is consistent with our Commonwealth’s values, it improves workers’ well-being on and off the job, and it’s the right thing to do. The legislature should pass SB 735/HB 1577 as soon as possible.”
“Unions have long been some of the earliest and strongest supporters of LGBT equality,” said Tyrék D. Lee Sr., executive Vice President of 1199SEIU, the largest healthcare union in Massachusetts. “The labor movement’s power has contributed tremendously to advancing rights for LGBT people because when any person experiences discrimination in the state we call home, it’s bad for all of us. We stand proudly in support of the transgender protections bill in Massachusetts.”
“Massachusetts has the opportunity to be a leader on equality and set an example for the rest of the country by passing the transgender protections bill,” said Brian Doherty of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District. “Building trades unions fight for dignity and respect for people every day. When protections are ensured for all people, communities thrive and we as a society prosper. This commonsense bill is good for our well-being and safety, and for Massachusetts’ reputation as a beacon of freedom and equality for all people.”
“The ability to live your life free from discrimination in any aspect is integrally connected to economic and workplace justice,” said Harris Gruman of SEIU State Council. “Massachusetts has the opportunity to add transgender people to the important list of people who cannot be discriminated against for being who they are. We strongly urge legislators to do what’s best for the Commonwealth, and pass SB 735/HB 1577.”
Labor unions join a robust coalition calling for passage of the bill—including Mayors of 15 municipalities, 250+ businesses, 350+ faith leaders, the entire Congressional delegation, all of New England’s professional sports teams, leading women’s advocacy organizations and more.
In less than 24 hours, members of the Senate will decide whether or not to advance this crucial civil rights bill. CLICK HERE to contact your Senator now and urge them to vote “yes” on #TransBillMA!

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