On January 1, your UFCW Local 655 Health and Welfare Fund will cover same sex domestic partners that have been married in a state that recognizes same sex marriages by law.
President David Cook said he is pleased that Local 655 has achieved this remarkable, inclusive health and welfare policy. “We work every day to fight discrimination and unfair treatment of all of our members, but the addition of health benefits for gay and lesbian domestic partners is a remarkably progressive stride,” Cook said.
“Recognizing the integrity of same-sex marriages is at the forefront, and at Local 655, the largest union in the eastern half of the state of Missouri, we are proud to be among the first to take a stand by voluntarily providing such health insurance coverage.”
Although Missouri has not legalized same sex marriages, the number of states where gay marriage is legal now stands at 14, plus the District of Columbia. Laura Kelley, shop steward at Shop ‘N Save-South Lindbergh and a member of the Local 655 Executive Board says Local 655s decision to insure gay and lesbian life partners is a move she and her wife will never forget.
“For years, my wife and I worried about doctor’s visits, feared hospital stays and completely avoided dental visits all together. I cannot put into words the peace this news brought our hearts,” Kelley said. “The night I shared this news with my wife… I know will never be forgotten in my household.” Kelley, who became active in Local 655 just over a year ago, says “Thanks to David Cook, president of Local 655, all member’s voices can be heard.”
“He stood up to fight for equality and won. I have never been more proud to say that I am a union member and plan to spread the word to other UFCW Locals and members,” Kelley said. “This is living proof that unions are here to represent and protect the equality of all workers.”
“In the UFCW, we have a long, proud history of standing up for fair and equal treatment for all workers – regardless of what they look like, where they come from, what language they speak, or who they love,” Cook said.
“We proposed it to the companies and our Health and Welfare Board and everyone felt it was the right thing to do. I’m so proud of our employers and our union for standing strong and achieving this much needed benefit for our gay and lesbian members.”
Current enrollment forms have been mailed to members and include directions and requirements for same-sex partner enrollment.
In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled that The Defense of Marriage Act, the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, is unconstitutional. A new survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found three-quarters of organizations reacted positively to the U.S. Supreme Court DOMA ruling.