Unions standing strong for reproductive rights

Abortion rights activists in Madison, Wisconsin. PHOTO: MARRCH
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When Roe v. Wade was overturned, the AFL-CIO came out with a strong statement in defense of bodily autonomy. The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice (NMRJ), which was founded by Radical Women, believes that unions are key to the fight for full reproductive rights. Mobilization members, representing community and labor groups and individuals, are organizing for AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler to turn the statement into action.

As of May, over 600 groups and individuals had signed an open letter motivating the AFL-CIO to organize a labor conference to strategize for defense of reproductive rights. Signers include 33 unions and labor councils, 17 retiree chapters and worker organizations, including Oregon Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Minnesota Nurses Association and Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union.

Also, 26 union officers sent individual letters to Liz Shuler mirroring this demand. The Retiree Chapter of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in California’s Bay Area helped garner support from AFSCME Council 57, East Bay Parks AFSCME Local 2428 and Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Central Labor Council.

Support is growing with the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) agreeing to co-sponsor a press conference in Washington, D.C. with the NMRJ on June 24. CLUW is a constituency group of the AFL-CIO and the date is the anniversary of the Dobbs decision that eliminated the constitutional right to abortion.

The event will gather unionists and feminists to speak out on the need for action in defense of abortion and reproductive justice. The press conference will conclude with the presentation of the open letter to Shuler.

As can be expected, all this organizing takes money. The Mobilization is fundraising to bring a contingent of working-class activists, many of whom are LGBTQ+ and of color, to participate in the press conference. The goal is to help cover the $10,000 it will cost for airfare, hotels and general expenses. All donations are appreciated and can be made online at ReproJusticeNow.org.

While the hard-right and fundamentalists strive to eliminate access to abortions, in vitro fertilizations, contraceptives, and trans medical care, working people are saying “No!” The message of this work is clear — labor must lead in defense of reproductive health.

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