After a number of quieter years, the South Florida Chapter successfully ‘reactivated’ itself last winter, thanks in part to the efforts of Chapter President Matthew Land, Political Director with the Southeast Laborers Council. Matthew is joined in leadership by Vice President/ Treasurer Michael Molnar, and Secretary Gruselda Dowe, both of United Teachers of Dade (Florida Education Association).
“The Chapter had been around off and on, but had never quite gained the traction of some of the other constituency groups” says President Land. “With the 2020 Election likely to be the most important election of our lifetimes, and the possibility of the SCOTUS decisions happening at some point in 2020 that will have a major impact on LGBTQ workers, our chapter leadership felt it was so important to reorganize LGBTQA union members and workers and provide a space to for us during these times” The Chapter placed a strong focus on bringing local existing LGBTQ organizations into the mix, because of the resources and hard work they bring with them. Activists have also been organizing one-on-one meetings with unions (virtually, of course!) to talk about Pride at Work, and to encourage them to identify at least one person to be a liaison between the chapter and their union. From there, the goal is to get each union invested and have them work with leadership to identify new Pride at Work members from within their own unions.
The Chapter is adjusting to (union) life during a pandemic and is committed to facing any challenges head on. “We are fortunate in that we just reorganized and had already planned to integrate virtual participation in our meetings. This allows us to make decisions more easily, but in this new virtual world, there is ‘virtual meeting fatigue’ so we are working to provide a unique space that people want to join.” In addition to monthly meetings the chapter has been phonebanking for LGBTQ-friendly candidates, as well as promoting LGBTQ worker-focused fundraisers.
Looking forward, the chapter has set some great goals according to President Land. “We would like to have at least one dues-paying member from each of the AFL-CIO and Building and Construction Trades affiliated unions and expand participation from LGBTQ advocacy and worker’s rights organizations within the next year.”