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Gay union members discuss why AT&T/T-Mobile merger would be good for LGBT workers (with audio)

random-board.jpgFollowing the fallout involving GLAAD, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and other groups that sent letters to the FCC about a proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, gay AFL-CIO union members held a news conference today to discuss why the merger is a good thing for gay workers.

Here's an earlier news release from Pride at Work, the unions' gay constituency group:

WASHINGTON – With controversy surrounding LGBT organizations' support for the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger, join representatives from Pride at Work and LGBT union members on a press call (11AM, Friday June 24) to discuss the recent controversy and to correct the record regarding organizational motivations for backing the merger.  The speakers will discuss why the merger matters for LGBT workers, the LGBT environment at AT&T and the protections and benefits in place for LGBT employees.

“For regular working people, the ability to secure LGBT-inclusive benefits in a union contract is a vital priority.  This merger matters for the LGBT people who work at AT&T and T-Mobile right now and for the wireless industry, which will for the first time have a majority a LGBT-inclusive, union workforce.  This should be one of the highest priorities of our movement.”

“Too often, the voices of working people and jobless workers within the LGBT community – particularly women, people of color and transgender workers – get lost in public messaging around what the “gay community” wants,” said Peggy Shorey, Executive Director, Pride at Work.

"We applaud the organizations that have endorsed the merger for standing up for regular working people and jobless workers in the LGBT community,” said Shorey.   "This isn't a case of 'follow the money,' it's a case of 'look at the record.’  AT&T simply has the best record among wireless carriers on issues important to the LGBT community,” she concluded.

“It is important to cut through all the noise of organizational politics.  I want to make clear that AT&T, though not perfect, has been a leader on LGBT issues and creating a safe and equal work environment for members of our community,” said T Santora, President of CWA Local 9000, whose members include AT&T wireless workers. (Santora is also a retired co-president of Pride at Work.)

Speakers will highlight, among other factors, the following components of AT&T's record on key LGBT issues that make it better for LGBT workers than current conditions at T-Mobile:

  • AT&T offers domestic partner health insurance and, beginning in 2010, offers family and medical leave to gay and lesbian employees, even in states where paid leave for domestic partnerships is not required by law;
  • AT&T is the only wireless carrier to offer transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, including surgical procedures;
  • AT&T is wall-to-wall union.  That means that, unlike other companies who may tout LGBT inclusive policies, AT&T employees have a seat at the bargaining table and their benefits are secured in a legally-binding union contract.

“T-Mobile workers have been struggling to form a union, but their company is aggressively fighting their effort,” Shorey continued.  “Given that in a majority of states workers can be legally fired simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, a union contract is often the only protection LGBT workers have.”

AT&T has a long history of positive stances on LGBT issues.  In 1975, the Bell System parent company AT&T became the first major corporation to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation -- a notable development given the Bell System's status as the largest non-governmental employer in the nation at the time.

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Pride at Work represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender labor and our allies.  P@W is an officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO, organizing mutual support between the Labor Movement & LGBT Community for social and economic justice.      

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