By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
DETROIT – The Michigan Federation of Teachers and School-Related Personnel took a stand for transgender employees at their recent convention.
By an “overwhelming vote,” according to President David Hecker, the union approved a resolution committing itself to “stand in solidarity with transgender workers” and to “raise our collective voice in resolute defiance of all forms of discrimination based upon gender identity or expression.”
MFT&SRP held their convention on May 6-7.
The first part of the resolution calls on the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents to amend the university’s bylaws to ban discrimination based on gender identity or expression. UofM has been criticized by groups including Transforum, a group for transgender students and faculty, for failing to amend their bylaws after being encouraged to do so by a recent university task force on LGBT issues.
Andre Wilson, the Secretary of UofM’s Graduate Employees’ Organization, said that the MFT&SRP resolution was an outgrowth of the larger union’s support of GEO during recent contract negotiations with the university. GEO was bargaining for protections and health care for transgender graduate employees, among other issues. The talks ended successfully in April just before a planned strike by the students’ union.
“I’m always proud to be president of the MFT&SRP, and if it’s possible to be prouder, at moments like this I am,” said Hecker of the resolution. “It’s recognizing that discrimination is discrimination is discrimination, no matter who the victim is, and we have a proud history of fighting discrimination.”
Wilson, who is also co-founder of Transforum, stressed the importance of the section of the resolution urging UofM’s Board of Regents to change the school’s bylaws.
“This was important because the UofM is such a prominent educational institution in Michigan,” he said, “and so in many ways [changing the bylaws] will be a very symbolic act for education.”