We go by a lot of names– some people know us as the San Francisco chapter of Pride at Work. Some people know us as HAVOQ– usually translated as the Horizontal Alliance of Very (or Voraciously or Vaguely) Organized Queers. Whatever you call us, we’re a collective of queers fighting for economic and social justice.
We are the LGBTQ arm of the labor movement, actively campaigning to protect workers’ rights to organize and defending queer justice in the workplace. Our group also organizes to build tenant power in San Francisco, to ward off the gentrification of queer neighborhoods and stop the displacement of communities. We work to resist the ongoing attacks on immigrants, the homeless, and other frequently targeted members of our communities, in hopes that our city will one day be a safe place for all people. We stand with all workers, tenants, immigrants and queers in the spirit of the union movement’s historic motto: An Injury to One is An Injury to All.
Everyday we are building a strong queer voice for justice through grassroots organizing. Wherever we go we are a fabulous and energetic presence in the streets. Every voice makes us stronger- Join us!
● In May we went viral with a Lady Gaga flash mob and Youtube video in the lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, to let queers all over the country know that when they came to San Francisco for Pride, they should not stay in a hotel that won’t sign a fair contract and provide affordable health care to their employees. The video has continued to generate widespread attention for the ongoing boycott, and inspire other flash mobs and creative actions.
● In June, the SF Bay Guardian published an article titled “The Triumph of Tenacity,” detailing the successes of the CitiSTOP! campaign. We are proud to announce victory over San Francisco’s most infamous landlord!
● In June we were also an integral part of the local “Sleep With the Right People” Campaign, which succeeded in getting the Pride committee to officially boycott Hyatt Corporation and show that the LGBT community stands with all workers against the anti-worker practices and the anti-gay politics of certain management in the hotel chain. Pride at Work then organized a festive labor contingent, with union members from HERE Local 2, SEIU Local 1021, CNA, ILWU, IBU, MMP and others.
● In August, we sent our third annual delegation to Arizona to participate in No More Deaths, a humanitarian aid organization that operates on the US/Mexico Border. This work draws attention to the violence done to communities on both sides of the line as a result of increased militarization and unjust trade policies.
● All summer, we played a critical role in organizing the queer community in San Francisco to stand against Alcatraz Cruises/Hornblower after union supporter Vincent Atos was fired for “acting too gay.” We circulated a petition in various neighborhoods of San Francisco to get support for an investigation of his illegal firing, and hosted several actions including a picket with a red carpet, to let the company know that SF is actually too fabulously gay for their homophobic, union-busting company.
● This summer we also co-hosted several rallies demanding a trans-inclusive ENDA in front of Pelosi’s office. Pelosi promised to bring ENDA to a vote while we had the votes to pass it in Congress and reneged on her word. Pride at Work was out there to show that there will be no peace until all queer and transgender workers have legal protections on the job.
● Throughout the summer and fall, we campaigned to defeat the Sit/Lie Ordinance: Proposition L, another in a series of laws criminalizing the poor. We worked in coalition with those most likely to be affected by the new law, including members of the coalition on homelessness, queer youth, and day laborers. Although the measure passed, we continue to work to strike the law from the books and confront the anti-poor environment that allowed it to pass.
● Pride at Work culminated a year of workers’ rights outreach and trainings for queer and transgender workers in December with a showing of “Screaming Queens” which documents the significant but little known history of the Compton Cafeteria Riots in which trans women faced with endemic police abuse fought back, several years before Stonewall. Tamara Ching, who actually participated in the riots, spoke at the event and led a discussion about the rampant discrimination facing transgender folks today. This event is the beginning of a new phase of education and campaign work on issues facing transgender workers.
● Early this year, we released our 2011 Calendar: Limp Wrists, Raised Fists! Each month is a fun homage to the many ways we fight for queer social and economic justice. Copies are still available!
● In April, we released our working document On Queers and Borders for feedback from our allies and collaborators in the queer and migrant justice movements.
● Through our continued involvement with the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee, we are working to limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities, pushing for SF to be able to opt-out of the national “Secure Communities” (S-Comm) program.
● We continued our participation in the Workers’ Rights Collaborative doing culturally appropriate outreach and education around enforcing San Francisco labor laws such as minimum wage, paid sick leave and healthcare security ordinances. From this we have joined the Chinese Progressive Association, La Raza Centro Legal and Young Workers United in organizing a campaign that would push for a Low Wage Worker Bill of Rights.
● We have recently joined a nation campaign to pressure Wells Fargo to divest from the funding of private immigration detention centers, a challenge to big banks and to the corporate lobbyists behind Arizona’s SB-1070 and similar measures in Alabama and Georgia.
● In June, we hosted a training for LGBT and allied union members and staff on how to work on LGBT workers issues through their unions. It was an exciting and inspiring day of work!