Chelsea Bland is a full-time unionist, in and out of the workplace. As a union communication professional, she supports the American Federation of Governmental Employees' communication department. And as a member of her own union, OPEIU Local 2 in Washington, D.C., she's played an active role in developing the local union's internal LGBTQIA+ Committee.
In 2015, Bland agreed to chair the committee and begin to develop its structure and goals. "I thought this was an opportunity to become more active inside of our union," she says.
Philanthropy, mutual aid and community service form the core of the committee's work, she says. The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to many of the programs the ever-growing committee was working on. But with support from local leadership, and as vaccination rates climb, she's planning "to try out different programs and to connect with other queer folks" within Local 2.
The development of the committee that, she says, aims to "go beyond visibility," was made easier with support from local leadership. "Visibility is important," she says, "but it's important to set clear goals and objectives to see where you can go beyond it."
She is passionate about prioritizing the voices and leadership of Black and other LGBTQIA+ people of color within the labor movement and encourages OPEIU members who want to start their own LGBTQIA+ committee within their local unions to contact her for some guidance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the AFL-CIO's Pride Month profile of Chelsea here.