Public employees at the City of Seattle are exposing widespread sexual harassment and discrimination. It is not a new problem, but with international attention riveted on predatory behavior it is an auspicious moment to create change. Members of FSP and RW are contributing leadership gained from decades of experience as city workers fighting an oppressive management.
The current effort came out of a Radical Women meeting late last year on the #MeToo movement. From that, RW and FSP members began working with City Light workers who had been fighting harassment for a year. The campaign expanded to include people from other city departments — and Seattle Silence Breakers (SSB) was born.
SSB includes city workers, union reps, retirees, and members of RW and FSP. Employees past and present have expressed their grievances, relaying both the lack of action and the management retaliation when workers speak up.
Within its first month, SSB devised points of unity. The statement reads in part: “We demand that City leadership act immediately to stop all forms of harassment, intimidation, bullying and discrimination that continue to create a hostile work environment. … Seattle Silence Breakers are proud to stand together to support and demand justice and remedy for those who have suffered as a result of harassment, intimidation and discrimination. ”
SSB has gotten a lot of press coverage and is beginning to make waves. It held its first action on Valentine’s Day at a rally in front of City Hall, calling for action by the mayor and City Council. Silence Breakers demand that the city reveal the number of abuse and bias claims it has received and that it make the Office for Civil Rights an independent entity that will fight for all victims of sexual harassment and discrimination.