Battering is the greatest single cause of injury among women living in the United States. Each year, almost four million American women are physically abused by their husbands or boyfriends, and nearly 4,000 women die each year as the result of domestic violence. And although most family violence is directed at women, it also affects men, elderly parents and children; and
Domestic violence spills over into the workplace, resulting in problems ranging from absenteeism and lowered productivity to violence and death. Husbands and boyfriends commit 13,000 violent acts against women in the workplace each year, and over half of the battered women surveyed in one study reported that their abusers harassed them at work; and
AFSCME recognizes that domestic violence is a union issue. AFSCME members are at risk for serious physical and psychological injuries that occur when domestic violence spills into the workplace. Also, domestic violence is a factor in many on-the-job problems, including excessive absenteeism, abuse of sick leave, or poor job performance. These problems may result in disciplinary actions against members; and
AFSCME strongly supported the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was enacted in 1994. VAWA provided many new legal tools for victims and prosecutors, including making it a federal crime to cross a state line to violate a protection order. VAWA also authorized funding for a national hotline, battered women’s shelters, and training and other resources; and
The Clinton Administration has established, in the U.S. Department of Justice, a Violence Against Women Office which utilizes both public and private resources to combat this problem; and
Reauthorization of funding for the domestic violence hotline, battered women’s shelters, and education for judges and court personnel is needed, as well as additional legislation to prohibit employers from taking adverse job action against an employee who was or is a victim of domestic violence, to ensure that victims of domestic violence are eligible for unemployment insurance, and to prohibit discrimination against victims of domestic violence in issuing and administering insurance.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
That AFSCME reaffirm its commitment to fighting domestic violence. AFSCME recognizes Batter Women Syndrome as a legitimate form of defense when a victim of domestic violence is charged with the injury/death of her abuser. AFSCME will continue to work independently and in cooperation with other organizations to develop effective workplace programs and to increase public awareness of how violence at home and at work affects all victims; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
That AFSCME encourage all affiliates to work with employers to establish workplace programs to protect members, including those who are victims of domestic violence. Such programs may include workplace security measures, legal assistance, leave provisions, and counseling for both victims and batterers. In addition, AFSCME encourages all affiliates to work with others in their communities to educate members and the public about domestic violence; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:
That AFSCME will make it a legislative priority to ensure adequate funding of Violence Against Women initiatives and enact additional measures to prevent family violence.
Louise Debow, Delegate
AFSCME Local 420, Council 37