A Teamster Troublemaker for Fairness

September 6, 2013: A Local 802 Teamster celebrates her 15th year as a groundbreaking Teamster and "troublemaker" for fairness.

The first Teamster woman at her grocery warehouse, Arlena Dean filed a grievance to force her employer to create a locker room for women employees only to be told that she was forbidden to use it.

Management at her Bronx-based grocery warehouse banned Arlena, who considers herself a "proud African-American lesbian Teamster," from using the women's locker room. The bosses ordered Arlena to change in a broom closet across the hall from the men's bathroom instead.

Dean filed a discrimination grievance and launched a support petition. More than 100 co-workers signed in solidarity.

Dean's persistence and solidarity paid off. The company built a new union locker room for all Teamster women employees—gay and straight.

"I've never lived my life in the closet and I wasn't about to change in one," Dean said. "I've put up with a lot of harassment and discrimination. I wasn't going to stop until I got justice."

September marks Dean's 15th year as a proud Teamster.

"I've proven I can do my job as well as anyone else and I just want to be treated equal to everyone else too," Dean said.


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