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Los Angeles – June 25, 2015 – UFCW activists from across North America recently gathered to honour retired UFCW International President Joseph Hansen as the inaugural recipient of the Bill Olwell Champion of Equality Award. Brother Bill Olwell was the first openly gay UFCW International Executive Vice-President and was a champion for the rights of LGBTQ workers. The award was presented to Brother Hansen for his ongoing commitment to UFCW members of the LGBTQ community, including the formation of the UFCW OUTreach constituency group in 2013.
The award presentation took place in Los Angeles during L.A. Pride Week, as members of the OUTreach Executive Board met to discuss new strategies and methods to work together to fight for the rights of LGBTQ workers at work and in the community. OUTreach members also visited the iconic Black Cat Tavern, a historical landmark, and the site of a police raid in 1967, where gay patrons were beaten, assaulted, and arrested on “lewd conduct” charges. LGBTQ people’s protest in the weeks following the raid inspired the first-ever legal challenges that gay people were entitled to equal protection under the law. At the Black Cat Tavern, UFCW OUTreach members met with Alexei Romanoff, an LGBTQ activist who participated in the 1967 protests.
Pride Week events also included the Los Angeles Pride Parade, where activists and OUTreach members from across the U.S. and Canada formed a loud and proud UFCW delegation, chanting in unison a message of pride and solidarity. The march also included demonstrations against corporate agendas that continue to drive down wages of employees including Walmart workers and yet-to-be organized workers in the U.S.
The UFCW OUTreach Constituency group holds bi-annual board meetings and exists to build mutual support between UFCW Locals, International and Regions, and LGBTQ members, and works together to advance social justice principles for all UFCW Canada members. To find out more information on UFCW OUTreach Constituency group, check out www.ufcwOUTreach.org.