Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-04-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Expose could lead to protections for LGBT steelworkers
by Derrick Clifton
2014-08-06

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


For LGBT workers at steel mills, it hasn't gotten better. But there's hope.

Even with the waves of progress in America on issues such as same-sex marriage and employment non-discrimination laws from state-to-state, progress seems to have missed steelworkers at plants across the country, including in Chicago's backyard. They endure on-the-job harassment, sexual assault, physical threats, violent attacks and can be fired at any time just because of who they are—because Indiana doesn't protect LGBT workers.

But at an upcoming international steelworkers' union convention Aug. 11 in Las Vegas, that could all change with an affirmative vote on an LGBT employment protection resolution.

The plight of the steelworkers was brought to light in a recent book, Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Steelworkers, written by scholar and lecturer Anne Balay. The former instructor at Indiana University Northwest told Windy City Times that, following the release of her book earlier this spring, many of the workers in Gary, Ind., and elsewhere in that state decided they would approach their local union bosses and take action.

"One of them went to their local [union] steward, and the local president, and then to a civil rights coordinator and a bunch of meetings ... and the language of their contract went through [with protections]," Balay said. "And it got everyone else excited ... there seems to be a positive feeling that once the resolution gets to the convention that it'll get wide support."

Balay opted to be a partner in that very process, even drafting a sample resolution for workers and union figureheads to tweak and formalize into procedural language, given her years and thorough knowledge of the broader issue gained through her original research and countless hours of interviews with individual steelworkers.

Some of those factory employees and leaders, including straight ally Paul Kaczocha of northwest Indiana, are heartened and hopeful with the progress they've already seen. Kaczocha's local, based out of the ArclorMittal plant in Burns Harbor, Indiana, voted almost unanimously in favor of protecting their LGBT steelworkers.

"The thing is that people have so many relatives, children, who have been touched by LGBT discrimination and they're much more open about this than they were 20 years ago, let alone 40 years ago when I was hired into my shop," said Kaczocha, a past president of his local, who says he will retire soon. "Mills can be a brutal place to work. If you show any weaknesses, people exploit them. If someone was openly gay or lesbian, they probably did get harassed by people over the years."

Kaczocha said the broader governing body, United Steelworkers International, would likely not shy away from the issue at the Aug. 11 meeting, where many policies and procedures are revisited during a constitutional convention.

Indeed, the issue isn't confined to northwest Indiana mills and, in fact, extends to unions nationally.

In her recently released book, Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America, New York University professor Miriam Frank documented various LGBT labor issues that have impacted the community's civil rights and economic empowerment. Frank said that organized labor has had an active role in helping secure the recent wave of wins for equal marriage in America, and that "right away" is barely soon enough for workers to get the protection they truly deserve.

"Roadblocks of prejudice and ignorance will only fall if USW commits to mobilizing all straight allies within the union," Frank said, adding that they must support "Pro-active education about sexual diversity within the workforce" and "immediate responses to complaints of discrimination and harassment."


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: From an absorbing memoir to cool socks 2020-04-01 - —Ordinary Girls: A Memoir: In this hard-hitting memoir, Jaquira Diaz writes of struggling with depression and drug abuse while growing into her identity ...


Gay News

CAKE postponed until June 2021 2020-04-01 - Because of coronavirus-related concerns, Chicago Alternative Comics Expo ( CAKE ) and CAKE-related activities are being postponed until a proposed date of June ...


Gay News

BOOKS Legendary Chicago 'lesbian of conscience' tells her story 2020-04-01 - In Emily L. Quint Freeman's no-holds-barred 262-page memoir, Failure to Appear: Resistance, Identity and Loss, she provides a gripping true-life story of a ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Lesbian bishop, iconic activist dies, military lawsuit, drag legend passes 2020-03-31 - Rev. Bonnie Perry was recently ordained as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan—beconing the first woman and openly gay person ...


Gay News

SPLC releases 'Hate and Extremism' report 2020-03-23 - The Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual "Year in Hate and Extremism" report, identifying 940 active hate groups across the United States ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Ann Morris 2020-03-17 - Ann Morris passed away March 7. She was 67. Ann was born in Chicago on April 5, 1952, and grew up in Texas. ...


Gay News

THE AMAZON TRAIL Mick's potato fertilizer 2020-03-17 - When I asked for advice about growing potatoes, our friend Mary wrote, "Here is what Mick does: blood meal, green sand, or wood ...


Gay News

BOOK REVIEW Ian McKellen: A Biography 2020-03-17 - Author: Garry O'Connor. $29.99; St. Martin's Press; 356 pages Any old stick would do. When you were a child, that's what it ...


Gay News

Gerber/Hart will be closed to the public until March 31 2020-03-16 - In support of efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, Gerber/Hart will be closed to the public until March 31. Upcoming ...


Gay News

Women & Children First delaying, cancelling events 2020-03-13 - Because of coronavirus-related concerns, most of the March events at Women & Children First bookstore, 5233 N. Clark St., have been rescheduled for ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.