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Workplaces Respond to Domestic & Sexual Violence

What can Unions do?

Adapted from Domestic Violence: A Union Issue. A Workplace Training Resource Kit for Unions.1

Unions have a key role to play in dealing with the workplace effects of violence by educating and assisting members, employers and policymakers.

In 2001, the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council issued a resolution recognizing domestic violence as a workplace issue, and that employment is the key to victims’ economic self-sufficiency. Some unions have pledged to address domestic and sexual violence as a part of their social justice and political agenda. (See suggested Pledge to Address Violence on this website.) Others have led the way by developing innovative educational materials and training programs, for union staff, officers and rank and file members. Model contract language has been drafted to ensure job security and to meet the needs of members affected by domestic and sexual violence.

Central labor councils and unions have passed resolutions in support of union efforts to fight domestic and sexual violence through education, collective bargaining and political action. Other unions have joined with domestic and sexual violence experts and elected officials in city and state governments to support legislative initiatives to expand protections and services for working women who experience domestic and sexual violence.

An early leader on this issue, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and its International and Women’s Rights Department implemented a domestic violence awareness campaign for members in 1988. AFSCME and Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund, created an important union domestic violence resource guide, applicable to all unions. For more information, please see the AFSCME guide: Domestic Violence: What Unions Can Do.

Click on each item below on this website to explore some concrete information and ideas on what your union can do.


  1. Urban, B.Y. & Wagner, K.C. (2000). Domestic Violence: A Union Issue. A Workplace Training Resource Kit for Unions. San Francisco, CA: Futures Without Violence. (415) 252-8900.

Partner Organizations Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), Legal Momentum, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and its National Sexual Violence Resource Center, National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project (RSP) of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Victim Rights Law Center, and Stalking Resource Center: A Program of The National Center for Victims of Crime.

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Funding by US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women

This project was supported by Grant No. 2009-TA-AX-K028 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this site or in any materials on this site, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.