Missouri still lacks basic protections for LGBTQ Missourians, meaning that LGBTQ Missourians can still be fired from our jobs, denied housing, and refused service simply for who we are. Union contracts historically have been, and increasingly continue to be, a leading force to provide protections from discrimination, equitable health care access for same-sex partners and transition-related coverage, and other equal benefits for LGBTQ workers.
Now, our LGBTQ community through Proposition A. Proposition A is a so-called “right-to-work” bill that weakens unions and strips Missourians of a voice in the workplace. It is entirely designed to limit a worker’s ability to push back when they are treated unfairly.
This is especially troubling for our LGBTQ community because we face such high levels of discrimination and harassment. According to a Missouri Foundation for Health report, 1 in 7 Missourians have faced discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Proposition A follows several moves to further strip the LGBTQ community of our rights. Prominently, Missouri is already an “at-will” state, meaning employers can fire you for any reason, and Missouri’s laws do not have explicit protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. This means in most places of our state, it is still legal to fire someone in Missouri for being as LGBTQ.
When we don’t have legal protections, it falls on us to protect each other. One of the few methods we have for protection is to join together and advocate through unions and employee contracts. If a discriminatory employer tries to harass us or fire us for our gender identity or sexual orientation, we can use the power of our union or contract to hold them accountable. If Proposition A passes, we will lose much of our power and ability to do that.
We know how successful we can be when we work together, and that’s exactly why opponents of LGBTQ equality are trying to pass Proposition A. They want to take away the defenses we have. They’re scared we will use these tools to repeal Missouri’s “at will” status and gain legal protection from discrimination. These efforts are another way to take away our voice.
We cannot let them do that to us. In order to defend ourselves against discrimination, we need to keep the tools and leverage we have, while we continue to work toward comprehensive nondiscrimination protections statewide. We need to join together and vote No on Proposition A on August 7th.
Executive Director, PROMO V