Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Pride Movie Showing at The Little

The showing of the movie Pride was a huge success!  Remarks from Pride at Work - Rochester Finger Lakes chapter President Bess Watts:  

"Good afternoon!  My name is Bess Watts, I’m the President of the Rochester chapter of Pride at Work AFL-CIO, a labor constituency group that represents the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & queer workers.  Anyone can belong to Pride at Work as long as you support LGBTQ workers and unions.

I’d like to welcome you to the showing of the 2014 British film PRIDE, made possible by the generous support of the Ronald G Pettengill Labor Education Fund.  This award-winning biographical comedy-drama was inspired by an extraordinary true story.

In the summer of 1984, Ronald Reagan was in the White House and his evil twin, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in power in Great Britain. More than 100,000 coal miners held the longest strike in British history against the closing of 20 coal pits, which would lay off tens of thousands of workers and effectively bust the mineworker’s union.   This bitter strike prompted a group of gay and lesbian activists to try to raise money to support the strikers’ families.  After all, both groups were being victimized by the same government. Helping blue collar strikers turned out to be a big challenge when anti-gay bias and discrimination stood in the way.

Many people who are depicted in the film, both miners and former lesbian and gay activists, have expressed appreciation for how honestly their struggles are portrayed.  The movie depicts what it means for ordinary people to work together overcoming obstacles for the common good while facing insurmountable odds.  That’s a message we can use today!

Our chapter of Pride at Work had our own version of Pride in 2010 when the Mott’s workers in Williamson went on strike against the Texas owned
Dr Pepper Snapple Group. The new management tried to cut worker pay, benefits and health coverage and a strike was called.   During this time our chapter of obviously LGBTQ+ people, walked the picket line, provided food, money and support in Williamson, at a remote plant not known for their diversity and inclusion.   

Workers went months without paychecks while watching scab workers cross picket lines, so it wasn’t long until Pride at Work members were wholeheartedly welcomed by strikers when we visited.

Proof of changed hearts and minds came when the struggling workers asked to march in the 2010 Rochester Pride Parade for visibility. We built them an 8-foot sign to pull along and they distributed 5000 leaflets to the crowd. They were amazed by the wildly supportive response. It was a shot in the arm that they needed.

It took another two months before worker demands were met and the strike ended in September 2010. The gratitude expressed to Pride at Work was heartfelt and we celebrated their victory.

 Today’s movie PRIDE, shows us that solidarity can and often must be forged with “unlikely alliances” …  that through this alliance building process, workers learn that they can set their sights higher for what is possible. 

In our community today we all have opportunities to support workers who are fighting for fair contracts, whether it is the newly Unionized Starbuck stores or Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals at Rochester General Hospital.  Workers need a collective voice and they need our collective support as they fight corporations who invest millions in anti-union efforts.    

And this same type of “collective voice” will be needed as we combat the extremist hatred and authoritarianism that is rising in our country. Minorities are under attack… Women, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQs, workers, non-Christians, academics, libraries…the very foundations of democracy are at risk.

It will take “unlikely alliances” and courage to fight this threat as authoritarian-embracing legislation and laws sweep across our country, inciting violence and hatred.

But solidarity is powerful and will triumph for the common good.     

For now, please enjoy this movie PRIDE as it highlights that solidarity is not always easy, but it is always worth it!     

Thank you and Happy Pride!"



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