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Texas AFL-CIO Executive Board Approves Resolution: Reproductive Rights Are Workers’ Rights

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 In a clear recognition of the challenges facing working families, and particularly, working women, the Texas AFL-CIO Executive Board has unanimously called for the state labor federation to advocate for restoration of reproductive rights.

  The resolution was advanced in July by the Texas AFL-CIO Women’s Committee during its biennial Women’s Summit, a statewide gathering of labor activists that seeks to build voice and power for working women. 

  “Reproductive rights are central to the lives of working families, and especially to the ability of women to plan careers and build livelihoods,” Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said. 

  “The Dobbs decision erased constitutional abortion rights of nearly 50 years standing. Worse yet, the opinions sent a clear signal that other basic reproductive rights, including contraception, may soon arrive on the Supreme Court’s docket. Now, our state’s current top leadership has engineered laws even more extreme than those in place before Roe v. Wade.”

  Levy said, “This  resolution mandates that the Texas AFL-CIO fight policies that undermine the very agency of women to make the most important decisions in their lives.”

  In presenting the resolution to the Executive Board, Traci Dunlap of the Texas American Federation of Teachers said Dobbs “sends a message that women and pregnant people are lesser under the law.” 

  “Our unions must affirm and support the right of all people to access safe and legal abortion as well as access safe and legal pregnancy care, because reproductive rights are workers’ rights,” Dunlap said.

  Dunlap was joined in presenting the resolution by Angi DeFelippo, Co-Chair of the Texas AFL-CIO Women’s Committee (with Judy Lugo) and Chair of Texas Young Active Labor Leaders. 

  The resolution calls for the Texas AFL-CIO to advocate for reproductive rights at the Texas Legislature, consider the issue in candidate endorsement screenings, and provide resources to affiliated unions to develop contract language that protects the ability of women to access the full range of reproductive rights, including, if necessary, out-of-state travel to obtain them.

  The Texas AFL-CIO is the state labor federation consisting of 240,000 affiliated union members who advocate for working families in Texas. The Texas AFL-CIO Executive Board consists of 65 vice presidents who lead unions, Central Labor Councils, and constituency groups across Texas.

  Full text of the resolution: 

  Resolution Declaring Reproductive Justice

 and Reproductive Rights Are Workers’ Rights

(Approved by the Texas AFL-CIO Women’s Committee, July 7th, 2022)

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States decision to overturn Roe v Wade will have a devastating impact on Texas workers’ ability to provide for themselves and their families, and their right to privacy, and the right of women and all people to control their own bodies and make decisions about their own health care, and

WHEREAS, Texas has anti-abortion laws in place that will force people to travel outside of the state to access an abortion, and many will be forced to carry out unplanned pregnancies, and

WHEREAS, the cost to travel outside of the state to receive abortion care is estimated to cost $4,000 or more1, and requires taking several days off work, creating impossible financial and logistical barriers for many working people, and 

WHEREAS,having access to affordable health care, including reproductive care and abortion, is essential for all workers, and all workers should be able to decide when and how they start a family on a timeline that works for them, and 

WHEREAS, access to reproductive health care and abortion increases a working family’s financial well-being, job security, workforce participation, and educational opportunities, and

WHEREAS, studies show that Black women, women of color, and low-wage workers are less likely to have access to paid family leave, paid sick leave, and meaningful protections for pregnant workers. Lacking these protections, many of these workers lose their jobs and financial security when they become pregnant2, and

WHEREAS, for decades the labor movement has fought for all workers to have access to health care, but many union self-funded Trust health plans require union members to pay out-of-pocket for some reproductive health care services, and  

WHEREAS, the 1199-SEIU National Benefit Fund guarantees abortion coverage, but other union Trusts explicitly exclude medications that induce abortion from prescription drug coverage and/or exclude elective abortion3, and

WHEREAS, the Texas labor movement must lead in this moment and be an outspoken advocate for better protections for women and pregnant people in the workplace and in collective bargaining agreements, as well as for local, state, and federal legislation that will protect safe and affordable access to reproductive health care and abortion, and 

WHEREAS, in the past the Texas labor movement has stood up for healthcare, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights because these are all workplace issues, and the health & wellbeing of union members depends on a strong, intersectional labor movement, and 

WHEREAS, reproductive care and abortion access are fundamentally a health care issue and all workers should have guaranteed access to reproductive health care, and

WHEREAS, the Texas AFL-CIO represents 235,000 union members who will feel the collective impact of the overturning of Roe v Wade and the loss of a vital health care right, and 

WHEREAS, the International Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers President issued the following statement, “the right of workers to control their own bodies cannot be separated from the right of workers to control their own labor. BAC will remain engaged to support the right of women, and all workers, to make their own decisions about their health and body”, and

WHEREAS, many other prominent international and local labor leaders as well as regional labor bodies have publicly denounced SCOTUS’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and have affirmed abortion as a worker’s right including: National AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler, AFSCME International President Lee Saunders (“Reproductive rights are workers’ rights. Reproductive justice is economic justice. The decision about when and whether to bear children is fundamental to the ability to pursue self-sustaining work”), SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry, AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson, Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor, AFT President Randi Weingarten, CLUW President Elise Bryant, APALA, Pride at Work, IUPAT, PA AFL-CIO, WA AFL-CIO, Maine AFL-CIO, APWU, UAW, and countless other Internationals, Locals and regional federations, and 

WHEREAS, a recent poll conducted by the AFL-CIO showed that a majority of union members believe reproductive rights is an important union issue, and

Now Therefore Be It 

RESOLVED, that the Texas AFL-CIO make a commitment to ensure that women maintain their right to reproductive choice and have access to all reproductive health services by issuing a Press Release to media outlets affirming the same, and coordinating with like-minded organizations in their efforts to achieve Reproductive Justice in our communities; and

RESOLVED, the Texas AFL-CIO United Labor Legislative Committee supports the creation of a Committee to identify state legislative bills that support working women and their right to reproductive healthcare including abortion, and

RESOLVED, the Texas AFL-CIO support local and federal bills that will support and expand reproductive healthcare, including abortion, and

RESOLVED, that the Texas AFL-CIO provide resources to affiliated unions to help them with contract language to protect women seeking reproductive healthcare from retaliation and discrimination, and guarantee union member access to comprehensive reproductive coverage, including reimbursement of out of state travel costs to access abortion services, as well as provide trainings for affiliated union members to better understand the impact the overturning of Roe v Wade has on working people, and

RESOLVED, that the Texas AFL-CIO will modify COPE endorsement questionnaires to reflect our state positions on Reproductive Justice to ensure that endorsed labor candidates stand with our union sisters & brothers and their families to protect their human right to bodily autonomy, 

RESOLVED, that the Texas AFL-CIO provide this resolution, if approved, to the National AFL-CIO for consideration by the Executive Council.