The workers at Persad Center, the LGBTQ mental health and community center founded in 1972, voted affirmatively to unionize with the United Steelworkers (USW) on Thursday, December 5, 2019.
The Persad Staff Union now joins the ranks of other white collar workers including the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh employees. That’s an interesting aside given that the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has yet to reschedule the Drag Queen Story Hours they cancelled in June 2019 due to vague threats from the right wing. (Check the schedule for yourself – maybe they scheduled ahead into the summer of 2020 and I missed it.) Censorship and silencing queer voices should not be labor values.
In Philadelphia, employees at the Mazzoni Center ratified their first union contract in September 2019. The Mazzoni Center focuses on the health care needs of the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning community. They are affiliated with the SEIU.
In a November Q&A with Persad organizing staff, they shared:
Collectively, we will have a stronger voice and greater protections when advocating for the change that we think is best for our organization, our clients, our communities and ourselves. The internal change we’re starting with is something we hope gives us a solid foundation to build better relationships with the community.
Here’s the formal press release:
For Immediate Release: Friday, December 6, 2019
Contact: Chelsey Engel, [email protected], 412-562-2446
Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW
(Pittsburgh) – Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted yesterday, December 5, to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.
The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”
The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.
“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.
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