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What Unions Can Do

Labor—Management efforts

  • Negotiate employer-paid legal assistance for use by abused women. 

  • If you have an Employee Assistance Program, be sure that it includes services for victims of domestic violence. 

  • Either independently, or in cooperation with the employer, sponsor workshops about domestic violence. In virtually every community the battered women's shelter will be glad to supply a speaker. 

  • Work with the personnel or human resources department to ensure that procedures are in place to prevent a victim's telephone number and address being given out to an estranged partner. For example, an employee should be able to request that personnel not give out this information without specific authorization. That notation should be made to all appropriate files and lists so as to minimize inadvertent violations. 

  • If you work in a profession which directly deals with the problem and you see ways that the services you provide could be more effective, strategize with the union about how to get your ideas implemented. 

Public awareness campaign

  • Make abuse an issue. Invite speakers, show films, and have lunch hour workshops or seminars at a general meeting. Create an environment in your local in which honest, open discussion about abuse is possible. 

  • Run articles in union newsletters on the issue of abuse, including information on help for batterers and the work of community-based organizations. 

  • Post the phone number of the shelter or hotline on employee bulletin boards and distribute literature to the members. 

Work with shelters

  • Establish links with local shelters, hotlines, and other community sources. 

  • Introduce materials into the workplace from the local hotlines and shelters — some women may need this information. 

  • Begin actively supporting your local women's shelters. If there is not one, use union organizational skills to get one started. 

  • Lobby federal, state and local governments for increased funding for shelters. 

  • Call your local shelter and ask how the union can help. Money is always scarce, so individual or union donations will be appreciated. Non-monetary contributions such as clothes or toiletries may also be needed. 

  • Most communities have a hotline. The union might provide volunteers to answer the hotline a few hours per month. 

Union training

  • Be sure all members have information about where to refer members for help. 

  • Help women become more confident by running assertiveness training workshops. 

  • Include information about domestic violence as part of your steward training.