Lawmakers, labor leaders tout funding for LGBTQ employment program

Crystal Hudson, the co-chair of the Council’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus, speaks at City Hall on October 7.
New York City Council/Courtney Curd

Members of the City Council’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus joined labor leaders and queer activists outside City Hall on October 7 to roll out a new funding initiative for non-profits and city agencies to recruit LGBTQ talent, provide training, and connect individuals to union jobs.

The announcement came almost exactly four months after folks huddled at City Hall and chanted “we’re here, we’re queer, give us a union career” as they sought to convince the city to fund the employment effort.

That wish was granted. The “Pride at Work” program steers $501,000 in the 2023 fiscal year to bolster workforce development across a wide range of career paths, including civil service jobs and pre-apprenticeships, and the initiative will also help folks prepare for civil service exams.

A key goal of the New York City-based program is to place aspiring job seekers in LGBTQ-affirming workplaces and training grounds. The partners involved in the initiative include Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, Destination Tomorrow, the Mount Sinai Health System, Nontraditional Employment for Women, and Pathways 2 Apprenticeship.

The “Pride at Work” program stems from the AFL-CIO’s LGBTQ+ affinity group, also known as “Pride at Work,” which works to establish full equality for LGBTQ workers. The affinity group is part of a coalition of labor organizations jointly backing in the city’s initiative, including the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Ironworkers (Ironworkers Union) as well as the National Education Association (NEA). The AFSCME DC37, the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, the New York City District Council of Carpenters, and the SEIU 1199 Training and Employment Fund are also supporting it.

The AFL-CIO’s existing “Pride at Work” program already has a Washington, DC-based national office that coordinates more than 20 different chapters nationwide.

"Pride at Work" event at City Hall in June.
Advocates at City Hall on June 8.Donna Aceto

“With this initiative, we are creating opportunities for LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers to acquire the skills and training needed to succeed in today’s evolving workforce,” Crystal Hudson, the co-chair of the Council’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus, said in a written statement. “Creating affirming spaces for this community, which has faced rampant discrimination in the workplace and also while searching for jobs, will ensure opportunities for LGBTQIA+ folks — especially those of color and trans women.”

Brittani Murray and Brittany Anderson, who serve as co-presidents of the AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work program, welcomed the Council’s funding allocation.

“We believe that a union contract is the best way to ensure equality in the workplace, and this initiative will help make that a reality for countless LGBTQ+ workers in New York City,” Murray said. Anderson added that the workforce development campaign in New York City “will improve the quality of life for LGBTQ+ workers by helping place them into union careers.”

Christina Herrera, the founder and CEO of Translatinx Network, also praised lawmakers for securing the funds to help train and employ queer workers.

“New York City’s City Council continues to be a trailblazer in addressing the needs of the LGBTQ community,” Christina Herrera said. “Pride at Work will provide crucial funding to continue to address high rates of unemployment and underemployment for transgender community.”