This article was in MCV by a guest columnist:
SHOP UNION HOMOPHOBIA HAS TO GO
By John Kloprogge 23 March 2011
One of the little known opponents of marriage equality in Australia is the retailers’ union – or the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union (SDA).
The SDA – or “Shoppies Union” – is the largest trade union in Australia. It controls the largest voting bloc at Labor Party National Conferences, where major policies are decided.
It claims to represent every worker in the retail industry, including those at Coles, Woolies, Kmart, Target, Big W, David Jones, Myer and Bunnings. It also speaks for butchers, bakers, cleaners, hairdressers, call centre workers – and many more.
The union’s National Secretary – Joe de Bruyn – sits on Labor’s National Executive, which has a large say in determining candidates in federal elections.
Speaking on ABC Radio National in November last year, De Bruyn said Prime Minister Julia Gillard should have “killed off” the issue of same-sex marriage. Traditional marriage must be preserved, he said, “because this has been the way that it has been in the existence of the human race."
It would be easy for an outsider to conclude that Joe de Bruyn is simply representing the views of SDA members. But they would be wrong. Many SDA members are young people working at their local supermarket – and as last year’s Galaxy poll showed, 80 per cent of young people support marriage equality.
The union is seriously out of touch with its members. And it’s beginning to show. Facebook groups have popped up damning the SDA’s stance on marriage equality. SDA members marched in recent Equal Love rallies and spoke about the need for an internal revolt. And in Brisbane last month, a meeting was held by disgruntled members to start mobilising for change.
What can you do? If you’re a member of the SDA, speak to your store delegate. Stand for a delegate position. Vote in elections. If you’re not an SDA member, spread the word. Join the Facebook group “SDA members for same-sex marriage”. Contact me to stay updated with what’s happening.
John Kloprogge is a board member of Australian Marriage Equality and a member of Equal Love Canberra. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org