The #MeToo movement is far from over. In fact, it’s just getting started when it comes to uncovering the abuses people have been forced to endure by the hands of sexual predators who have thus far been protected by the rest of society.
The latest to come from the movement is a new collaborative effort to protect janitors, factory workers, farm workers and other low-wage workers who’ve joined with safety, labor and anti-violence women’s rights advocates to announce the launch of “Our Turn,” a new alliance coordinated by the National Council for Occupational Safety and health to end the sexual abuse and harassment of low-wage and other vulnerable workers.
It’s Our Turn
“Our Turn” comes out of San Diego but plans to unite workers, community allies and organizations across the country who are fighting for new protections against abuse and harassment in union contracts, state laws, municipal ordinances and company policies. The new coalition plans to promote workplace organizing, legislative advocacy and hands-on training on how to prevent workplace sexual violence and abuse.
“The movement to end sexual violence is growing, and Our Turn brings together workers’ rights, women’s rights, and anti-violence organizations to support survivors and workers in taking back their workplaces,” said Linda Seabrook, general counsel and director of Workplace Safety & Equity for Futures Without Violence, a national social justice organization dedicated to ending violence against women.
More than 100 individuals and organizations, including labor unions, women’s organizations, and community-based organizations, have already signed on to the “Our Turn” pledge of “Commitment to Unity and Action,” which calls on participants to:
- Hold government agencies and employers accountable for harassment and violence
- Share the stories of workers who have fought against workplace abuse
- Advocate for laws and policies that protect workers from abuse and harassment
- Provide tools to prevent abuse and harassment
- Support workplace, community and political organizing
“Low-wage workers are fed up [and] are saying ‘We will not tolerate abuse as a condition of earning a living,'” said National COSH co-executive director Jessica Martinez. “Every worker — regardless of race, gender, income or sexual orientation — has a fundamental right to a workplace free from abuse and harassment.”
#MeToo…And Me, And Me, ANd Me…
Although the #MeToo movement did not originate in Hollywood — it actually began with Tarana Burke back in 2006 — there was this explosion of effort in Hollywood over the last year to expose rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment in the movie, TV and film industry after Alyssa Milano tweeted #MeToo, starting a viral trend that hasn’t slowed since. But, despite the necessary work that was being done to expose these predators, it was obvious this movement was only benefiting people in positions of power and privilege.
So other movements began to rise from behind the shadows of these Hollywood stars to shed light on the sexual violence experienced by people in much more vulnerable positions. People in retail, domestic work, agriculture and restaurants all stepped up to tell their stories of abuse and harassment and how they were forced to keep silent out of fear for their jobs. The most formal result of the movement is the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which helps pay the legal fees for certain workplace sexual harassment cases and connects people to the resources they need if they’ve experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
We’ve certainly come a long way since our pre-#MeToo days. Coming from the corporate world, I’d personally like to see office workers stand up next to join the chorus of voices fighting back against sexual violence and harassment in the workplace. What about you? Where do you hope to see the #MeToo movement head next?