A memo from HR brought back a memory from 9 years ago.
I was on our Local’s negotiating team, sitting at the table with representatives of the board and their lawyer.
We have language in our contract about leave for family illness and bereavement and we wanted the language to include domestic partners.
The board side took the language proposal and we sat there waiting for hours. When they came back, they said that they didn’t feel comfortable making that change.
One of our negotiators said, “You mean to say that if one of our teachers had a same sex partner for twenty years and that partner died, you think the teacher shouldn’t be able to get time off for the funeral.”
I couldn’t really tell if what I was seeing was a look of shame on the board members’ part or not. But they went back into caucus. Coming back an hour or so later, they would only agree to language that referred to those sharing a household.
We went with it.
Today the memo from HR was in response to Illinois passing the right to civil unions, including that of same sex couples.
The new Illinois Religious Freedom Protection & Civil Union Act (Public Act 96-1513) takes effect June 1, 2011. While this is not an insurance act, it does afford same sex and opposite sex couples entering into a civil union, the same obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses.
No contract language is necessary now. It is the law in Illinois. It took nine years to win our argument.