Labor & LGBTQ Solidarity – now & forever

Labor & LGBTQ Solidarity – now & forever


Guest Post from Mike Olson, Co-Chair of Coalition of Graduate Workers at Mizzou

Labor and the LGBTQ+ community have a long history together. From the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement to the present day, our communities have worked side by side to achieve victories for working people of all races, genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. The late great Harvey Milk, one of the first nationally prominent LGBTQ+ public officeholders, owed his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 in large part to the local labor movement. Unions have worked tirelessly to ensure protections for LGBTQ+ workers over the last few decades, and the recent spurt in organizing activity has been led, in part, by queer workers themselves.

In these uncertain times, solidarity is more important than it has ever been to working-class movements. As a member of both a labor union and the LGBTQ+ community, I know that solidarity is vital to achieving victories for all of the working class, including victories for marginalized communities. When we allow our adversaries to divide us along lines of race, gender, sexuality, faith, etc., the ruling class wins and we in the working class lose.

The rights of workers and LGBTQ+ people are under threat in a multitude of ways. Working people have made tremendous gains in recent months and years, as COVID revealed the depths to which corporate America will sink to squeeze every last cent of profit they possibly can. LGBTQ+ people have won victories to achieve levels of legal equality unfathomable as recently as a decade ago. However, increasingly authoritarian corporate politicians, armed with control of state legislatures and the Supreme Court, are working tirelessly to undo all those victories. Even now, in 29 states, a worker can be fired based on their perceived sexual orientation. With the authoritarian right-wing on the rise, that number is in serious jeopardy of rising. Solidarity is needed now more than ever.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court, though expected, has thrown many of us. Regardless of how you feel about abortion rights, the Dobbs decision opens the door to future decisions that will affect all of us. If anyone thinks that our adversaries are content with just overturning Roe v. Wade, think again. The right-wing has long desired a reversal of not just the civil rights revolution, but the reforms of the Great Society and the New Deal as well. Their vision includes not only the oppression of minority groups generally, but the oppression of workers too. Equal marriage rights, anti-discrimination statutes, worker health protections, all these and more, are hanging by a thread. Now that the Court has opened the door wider to authoritarian forces, if we want to preserve those workers’ victories, we cannot be silent. In such an environment, we must organize and fight and stand together.