Labor union vows to advocate on behalf of transgender workers during contract negotiations

Washington – Today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), applauds the member-delegates of the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for passing a resolution at their 2012 national conference in Denver yesterday.  The resolution states that SEIU local groups and members will bargain for transgender-inclusive heath care coverage as part of their contract negotiations with businesses and employers.

“This is a tremendous step forward in the fight for workplace equality for LGBT people,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “Our friends at SEIU recognize that all workers should be treated equitably, and that includes being free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  We are incredibly grateful to Mary Kay Henry and the SEIU member-delegates for continuing to be champions of justice and equality.”

With the passage of this resolution, SEIU joins the HRC Foundation, who, for the last decade, has been working to make workplace policies and protections more inclusive for transgender employees and their families through its Corporate Equality Index (CEI). This year the CEI rating criteria was made more stringent, requiring employers to have transgender inclusive health insurance coverage.  A remarkable 206 companies met the criteria.  Furthermore, HRC's Healthcare Equality Index recommends that all U.S. healthcare facilities provide transgender-inclusive health coverage to their employees.

Historically, transgender people have been categorically denied health care coverage for medically necessary treatment, irrespective of whether treatment is related to sex reassignment/affirmation.  Until recently, nearly all U.S employer-based health insurance plans contained “transgender exclusions” that limited insurance coverage for this population.