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Public Employers Must Address Harassment Too

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Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of a column published in Medium. To read the rest of the column, go here. Also, McBride was part of a panel of women labor leaders who discussed sexual harassment in the workplace Wednesday, on the eve of the International Women’s Day, in a discussion carried live on Facebook Live. To view the entire discussion, go here.

 The #MeToo movement has challenged our nation to confront pervasive sexual harassment in the workplace. Women of every age, every background and every profession have faced harassment, and for too many perpetrators there has been no accountability. …

Whether you work at a big corporation, a mom-and-pop business, a nonprofit dedicated to making the world a better place, or — like the 1.6 million members of AFSCME — in public service, it is the responsibility of management to ensure the dignity of every employee. …

AFSCME members are the people who keep your community running. We keep the streets clean and safe. We drive your kids to school. We’re nurses and librarians, road crews and home care workers. People in public service answer a calling to put their communities first, and they deserve a workplace free of harassment.

Unions have long worked with employers on policies to address harassment directed at workers. In just one example, management at telecom giant Verizon worked with members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to create a joint labor-management harassment awareness program that empowered workers to speak out about gender-based violence. Public sector employers, our state and local governments, need to take similar steps. …

Our cities, states and federal agencies should set the highest possible standard. After all, the mission of government is to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone. We cannot fulfill that promise without creating and maintaining harassment-free workplaces for public employees.

 

Photo Caption: Four prominent labor leaders discussed the sexual harassment epidemic in a discussion on the eve of International Women’s Day. Pictured (left to right) are AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, National Women’s Law Center President Fatima Goss Graves and Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta.