Local unions turn out for LGBTQIA+ rights at St. Louis Pride Parade









St. Louis area unions turned out in numbers June 30 for the 2024 Grand Pride Parade capping off St. Louis Pride Fest in downtown, celebrating their LGBTQIA+ members and reminding the public that unions provide an equal voice on the job to all workers.

Participating unions and affiliate organizations included United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 655 and 88, UNITE HERE Local 74, UAW Local 2250 and the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus with representatives from IBEW Locals 1, 1439, 1455 and 309.

Pride Fest, a celebration of LGBTQIA rights, draws attendees from throughout the country. The parade was interrupted and delayed for about an hour by pro-Palestinian protesters who objected to Boeing’s sponsorship of this year’s event. Police eventually arrested the protestors.

UFCW Local 655’s Laura Kelly, assistant to the president and co-chair of OUTreach, the national United Food and Commercial Workers Constituency Group for 2SLGBTQ+ Partners, said the union’s participation in the Pride Parade was all about inclusivity.

“Local 655 believes in complete inclusivity. We want to make sure that all the faces and voices that belong to our union are actually recognized and heard and understood for what their needs are for their communities, whether it be  2SLGBTQIA+, Latinx, people of color, UFCW Local 655 is all about including everybody.

“Whenever we say that we’re inclusive we want to actually mean it, and we do. And that’s why we’re here today to show the community that we love them, we support them,” Kelly said. “In the state of Missouri, our unions are the only protection they have from getting fired for being queer.”

Missouri is among states where it is still legal to fire someone in private sector employment for their sexual orientation. A union contract provides protection on the job to keep that from happening.

Illinois, a decidedly pro-union and pro-worker state, prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in both public and private employment.

“We support our brothers and sisters and siblings in the LGBTQIA community,” said Kim Bartholomew, president of UNITE HERE Local 74.

“Our union’s slogan this year is ‘You Will Not Divide Us,’ and we won’t be divided, we’re not going to let anybody divide us. We support everybody, Black, white, blue, green, gay, lesbian, transgender and feel they should be treated the same.”

The Greater St. Louis Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, with representatives from IBEW Locals 1, 1439 and 309 had a large contingent, carrying signs that read “Gay rights are workers’ rights” and “Trans rights are workers’ rights,” focused on the inclusivity of a union contract.

“With the IBEW and all of our members, everybody being inclusive is something we strive for,” said  Frank Jacobs, business manager of IBEW Local 1. “It’s something the IBEW strives for, and it’s nice that we have a great turnout today at this event.”

Katie Deatherage, president of UAW Local 2250 in Wentzville, said this is the third year local 2250 has participated in the parade and the first year for the local’s newly created LGBTQIA Committee.

“We’re all down here. We have allies, we have a lot of members in the community and we’re all happy to be down here supporting them,” Deatherage said.











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