#TimesUp Women need unions to protect against sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment and assault on the job has to stop. Together, we have the power to stop it.

By: Anny Gonzalez

By: Anny Gonzalez

I used to clean airplanes at Boston’s Logan Airport. I just wanted to go to work, do a good job, and go home to my family. But my job turned into a nightmare when I was regularly sexually harassed by my boss. 

I had to make a very tough choice—either speak up for my rights or stay quiet and take the abuse so I could feed my baby girl. At the time, I decided not to speak out because I was afraid of what would happen if I lost my job. I didn’t have a union to protect me if I reported the abuse.

They fired me anyway. Without explanation—and without even looking me in the eye—they let me go.

After I was fired, I lost almost everything—even my home. I had to move into a shelter with my daughter. No woman should ever have to suffer through that.

This is exactly why women need unions. I didn’t have anyone to protect my rights. I was alone. But I saw the power in a union when 32BJ showed me I could do something about this type of treatment and helped me file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. See, without a union, you can be fired for almost anything – or nothing at all. With a union, there’s security and protection.

That all happened about four years ago. Now my daughter is seven and I have a 1-year-old son. I don’t want my daughter to ever have to worry about her safety like this at work. I don’t want her to grow up in a world where it’s common to be sexually harassed by a man who is abusing his power. That’s why I’m saying loud and clear that #TimesUp.

I was invited by Representative Katherine Clark to attend the State of the Union address. This was my first time in Washington, D.C. I feel proud to have been chosen by the congresswoman to speak out so that other women don’t suffer the same thing that I went through. It was such an honor to join other brave women at our nation’s capital to send a message that we’re not going to take it anymore.

Sexual harassment and assault on the job has to stop. Together, we have the power to stop it.

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