Case Study I need a case study for Sexual Harassment in the workplace Labor Studies Journal 2018, Vol. 43(4) 245

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I need a case study for Sexual Harassment in the workplace

Labor Studies Journal
2018, Vol. 43(4) 245 –262

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DOI: 10.1177/0160449X18809432


Sexual Harassment in the
Workplace: Where Were
the Unions?

Ana Avendaño

Unions have a mixed record when it comes to fighting sexual harassment, especially
in cases that involve harassment by union members. Union responses to sexual
harassment have been shaped by their position in labor markets that remain highly
segmented by gender and race, with male-dominated unions playing a passive
role vis-à-vis female targets of sexual harassment, and too often siding with male
harassers. Those responses have also been shaped by a legacy of sexism within the
labor movement, and exclusion of women from the formal labor market, and from
unions, and by a distinctive form of feminism exercised by women inside the labor
movement, which focuses on women’s economic situation rather than on other
social factors that keep women down. In the wake of the #MeToo movement,
some unions faced their own internal harassment scandals. Several unions have
since adopted internal codes of conduct, and other approaches to better address
harassment internally, and on the shop floor. While codes of conduct are an
important element in changing the culture that permits harassment to persist,
they are not enough. By authentically focusing on sexual harassment, unions
would connect to the experiences of women in all workplaces. They would also
increase their chances of growing. Unions remain the most powerful voice for
working people in America, and the best vehicle to create a transparent, accessible
system that empowers those who suffer harassment in the workplace to stand up
collectively and individually against violators. The moment demands intentional,
well-resourced, genuine efforts from unions to do better. This article offers
modest suggestions that unions could easily adopt.

unions, sexual harassment, workplace culture

Corresponding Author:
Ana Avendaño,

809432LSJXXX10.1177/0160449X18809432Labor Studies JournalAvendaño

246 Labor Studies Journal 43(4)

Harvey Weinstein, the once-powerful Hollywood mogul, was arrested on May 25,
2018 in New York City and charged with rape and sexual assault. Weinstein abused
women for decades while evading responsibility. The front-page photograph of
Weinstein in handcuffs, appearing confused and disheveled, and led by a police woman
who exuded confidence as she perp walked him past a gauntlet of reporters is evidence
that a fundamental shift in American consciousness about sexual harassment in the
workplace has taken root.

Since the New York Times and the New Yorker exposed Weinstein’s extensive his-
tory of violence against a long list of Hollywood A-listers and other women in the
industry, the Times has kept a running list of high-profile men in various industries—
entertainment, media, sports, politics, high tech, and the courts—who have been fired
or forced to resign because of their conduct. Seventy-one names appeared on that list
as of February 8, 2018, just four months after the expose of Weinstein. The list identi-
fies another 28 high-profile men who have been suspended, or suffered another form
of punishment short of termination. It includes household names, some beloved in
labor and progressive circles, like Senator Al Franken, and television host Charlie
Rose (Almukhtar, Gold, and Buchanan 2018).

For working women, this reckoning is long overdue. Congress outlawed gender
discrimination in the workplace more than five decades ago with the passage of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, although it was not until the mid-1970s that federal courts
recognized that sexual harassment constitutes gender discrimination in violation of
Title VII of the Act (Shie, Taylor, and King 2000). In 1980, the agency charged with
enforcing Title VII, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
issued guidelines that established two general categories of sexual harassment: “quid
pro quo” and “hostile environment” harassment. The former category involves a per-
son in power—usually a supervisor or manager—conditioning an employment benefit
in exchange for sex. “Hostile environment” harassment occurs when unwelcome con-
duct, that is, “sufficiently severe or pervasive,” alters conditions of work and creates
an abusive environment. In 1986, the Supreme Court adopted the U.S. EEOC’s defini-
tions and guidelines (Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 US 57 (1986)).

Yet, as an U.S. EEOC study published in 2016 shows, anywhere from 25 to 85
percent of women in today’s workplaces experience a form of sexual harassment1
(U.S. EEOC 2016). Why is the problem so rampant? Or, as the U.S. EEOC (2016, ii)
asked, “with legal liability long ago established, with reputational harm from harass-
ment well known, with an entire cottage industry of workplace compliance and train-
ing adopted and encouraged for 30 years, why does so much harassment persist and
take place in so many of our workplaces?”

The seismic shift in the public’s acceptance of what constitutes appropriate behav-
ior in the workplace brought new urgency to that question. Analysts and academics
were quick to point to the law’s deficiencies: Title VII covers too few workplaces;
penalties are weak; liability does not reach into the echelons of power (Block and
Gerstein 2017). Many pointed to a culture that shames and blames women who report
harassment, keeping them silent. According to the National Women’s Law Center, 70
to 90 percent of women who experience harassment do not report it to their employers

Avendaño 247

(Raghu and Suriani 2017). Others pointed to private settlement agreements between
harassers and their victims that contain language forbidding the victims from speaking
about the harassment. Commonly known as nondisclosure agreements, those contracts
allow perpetrators to buy the silence of survivors and—as the Weinstein case made
very clear—allows them to continue abusing women (Levinson 2018). Indeed, power-
ful men including Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, Larry Nassar, and the current
President of the United States have used nondisclosure agreements to prevent women
from speaking out about their experiences.

Labor-friendly commentators responded to the nascent #MeToo movement by pro-
moting unionization as the answer. “We are not going to solve the problem unless we
address the profoundly undemocratic structure of most workplaces,” said one com-
mentator, adding, “a union grievance procedure at least gives workers an opportunity
to appeal to a neutral decision maker” (Strom 2017). The AFL-CIO (2018) published
an article on its website that argues, “[g]iven that sexual harassment is an abuse of
power, typically by a male manager against female subordinates, having a union and
collective voice strengthens a worker’s ability to stop harassment. A woman facing
sexual harassment is not alone.” The problem with those arguments is that they are
based on two flawed assumptions: (1) that victims of sexual harassment have access to
union grievance procedures in all—or at least, most—unionized workplaces and (2)
that harassers are, in most instances, the boss.

To the contrary, research shows that 60% of women who experience harassment on
the job do so from their peers, while only 28% report harassment by a manager or
supervisor (Careerbuilder 2018). In addition, unions have a poor track record of using
grievance mechanisms or their power in the shop in favor of women who are harassed
at work, especially if the harasser is a coworker. As former National Labor Relations
Board Chairperson Wilma Liebman, a union lawyer, explained to Politico, sexual
harassment “has been an ongoing problem for unions, especially those that were ini-
tially heavily male. It’s been a hard issue to deal with” (Kullgren 2017). Professor
Marion Crain, who studied all reported legal cases and arbitral opinions involving
unions and sexual harassment between 1970 and 1995, concluded that

most unions contribute to women’s economic disempowerment by addressing sexual
harassment in a manner that discourages women from acting collectively through their
unions to combat such treatment in the workplace. This casts the union as simply another
level of patriarchy for women unionists to contend with in the workplace, rather than as
an ally. (Crain 1995)

Labor unions sit in a perilous moment in history. On June 27, 2018, the Supreme
Court struck a blow to one of the institutional pillars of American trade unionism: its
self-funding mechanism. In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and
Municipal Employees, Council 31, the Court ruled that the “fair share” fees that public
sector workers represented by a union are required to pay for the collective bargaining
work that the union performs on their behalf are an unconstitutional infringement of
free speech rights. The Court’s action permits workers to receive services, benefits,

248 Labor Studies Journal 43(4)

and representation from unions without paying for them. Researchers at the University
of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign estimate that allowing union members a “free ride”
will reduce the union membership rate of state and local government employees by
8.2%, which could translate into a loss of 726,000 union members over time (Bruno
and Manzo 2018). Of course, a weakened public sector in turn weakens the already
anemic unionized private sector.

Unions would do well to focus their efforts on the real lived experiences of working
people, and connect to their current members and potential members by being respon-
sive and relevant to those experiences. Issues of equality—gender, race, immigration
status, disability—should not be siloed into specialized committees within the struc-
ture of the labor movement. Instead, they should be treated as core tenets of an agenda
to grow and revitalize the labor movement.

By authentically focusing on sexual harassment, unions would connect to the expe-
riences of women in all workplaces. They would also increase their chances of grow-
ing. While most campaign literature encouraging workers to join a union focuses on
the union premium in terms of wages and benefits, research shows that women vote
for unionization when they see the union as responsive to their noneconomic needs,
especially to issues that involve respect and dignity in the workplace (Mellor and
Golay 2014). More importantly, given the post-Janus moment, “women appear to
retain their membership when they perceive that the union is ‘making good’ on such
responsiveness” (Mellor and Golay 2014).

Unions’ Complicated History with Sexual Harassment

Unions have a mixed record when it comes to fighting sexual harassment, especially
in cases that involve conduct by union members. Unions stood as defendants or
bystanders in the early cases that set the boundaries of what constitutes “hostile work
environment” harassment, and how the law addresses that form of workplace discrimi-
nation (Crain 1995). The most famous of those cases is Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite
Co.,2 the first class-action lawsuit litigating a case of workplace sexual harassment.
Lois Jenson was one of the first women to work in the iron ore mines of northern
Minnesota. Her painful and heroic story was memorialized in the bestseller, Class
Action, and later fictionalized in the motion picture, North Country. In 1974, the U.S.
EEOC and several mines in the area entered into a consent decree that guaranteed that
20% of jobs in production and maintenance would be set aside for women and racial
minorities. Until then, blue-collar jobs in the mines, with the best wages and benefits
in the area, were only available to men.3

Women were met with hostility and vituperation from the men in the Eveleth mine,
who forcefully protected the mine’s “distinctly macho world view” (Bingham and
Gansler 2002, 33). As Lois Jenson began work on her second day on the job, a male
coworker walked past her, and without looking at her or breaking his stride said, “You
fucking women don’t belong here. If you knew what was good for you, you’d go home
where you belong” (Bingham and Gansler 2002, 14). The vitriol never dissipated.

Avendaño 249

In court, the women testified to what they had endured in their work lives: being
groped, grabbed, pressured for sex, threatened with rape, and subjected to pornogra-
phy and crass graffiti throughout the plant, as well as constant graphic conversations
about sex. One woman testified that on three separate occasions she found “a gob of
fresh semen” on clothes that she kept in her locker (Bingham and Gansler 2002,
47-48). Three years after the case was filed, a sign appeared and remained in the break
room bulletin board that read in all capital letters, “sexual harassment in this area will
not be reported. However, it will be graded” (Bingham and Gansler 2002, 132).

Violence in the plant intensified as women pressed their complaints. Women testi-
fied that they were stalked at home and begun carrying weapons to defend themselves
against physical attacks. A young man testified to “watching his mother pack her lunch
box for work each day: a knife, mace, rope to tie shut the door to her work area, and
food” (Grimsley 1996).

The women were members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6860, yet found
no refuge in their union. When Lois Jenson turned to the union after years of being
stalked and physically threatened by a supervisor, the union steward told her that he
did not know how to file a sexual harassment grievance, even though he had been
trained on how to file such grievances (Bingham and Gansler 2002, 106-107). Another
woman described in court that she was repeatedly exposed to graffiti about men who
said they “sucked her cunt and her juicy red lips,” and when she complained about the
graffiti to the union president, he shrugged and said, “Well, it’s true, isn’t it?” (Bingham
and Gansler 2002, 262). The women were conscious of complaining about conduct by
supervisors, not that of their male coworkers or the union, because “to be a squealer
was to betray the entire union movement, tantamount to becoming a company spy,” a
sentiment that remains too common among women unionists today. Yet, their com-
plaints only pushed the union to side more closely with the Company against them.

Union officials made no secret of their views about the women’s claims and which
members deserved protection from the union. The union president testified: “It’s my
job to represent the employees and the members of my union out there . . . and it’s not
my job to give discipline. It’s my job to protect them from discipline” (Grimsley

The union’s response in the Eveleth mine was not an aberration. Unions played
similar roles in other cases that established important legal precedents that signifi-
cantly strengthened protections for women workers (Crain 1995). For example, the
groundbreaking case that established the “reasonable woman” standard, which hostile
work environment claims are evaluated on, Ellison v. Brady, was brought by a woman
who was employed at the Internal Revenue Service and a member of the National
Treasury Employees Union.4 Lois Robinson, a welder and union member, successfully
sued her employer, Jacksonville Shipyards, securing for the first time legal recognition
of the role that pornography plays in creating a hostile environment in violation of
Title VII.5 In all of these cases, the women’s unions played no positive roles in their
struggles, or in their legal victories.

Most recently, the New York Times expose of conditions at two Ford Motor
Company plants in Chicago shows that the union’s attitude toward sexual violence in

250 Labor Studies Journal 43(4)

the plants has not changed significantly in the last twenty years. Several women who
worked at the plants in the 1990s sued the Company for pervasive sexual harassment,
and in 1999, won a multimillion dollar settlement. As the women who were members
of the United Auto Workers (UAW) told the Times,

bosses and fellow laborers treated them as property or prey. Men crudely commented on
their breasts and buttocks; graffiti of penises was carved into tables, spray-painted onto
floors and scribbled onto walls. They groped women, pressed against them, simulated sex
acts and punished those who refused (Chira and Einhorn 2017).

When one of the women asked her union representative for help in dealing with a
coworker who propositioned her for oral sex, he urged her not to follow-through on
her complaints because the coworker would lose his job, his benefits, and his pension.
False rumors about a sexual relationship with the harasser spread in the plant, which
made the woman’s work life increasing stressful. She gave up attempting to press
charges when the union official told her, “Suzette, you’re a pretty woman—take it as
a compliment.” Other female union members shared similar experiences (Chira and
Einhorn 2017).

Fast forward twenty years, and conditions have not improved significantly for the
UAW women at Ford. In August 2017, the U.S. EEOC reached a $10 million settle-
ment with Ford over racial and sexual harassment allegations at the very same Chicago
plants (Chira and Einhorn 2017). Thirty women autoworkers brought a separate law-
suit, which accuses union representatives of harassment and obstructing women’s
complaints.6 In that lawsuit, which is still making its way through the courts, several
women accuse the UAW bargaining committee chairman, Allen “Coby” Millender, of
repeated assaults that include touching, grabbing, and attempts at unwanted kissing
(EbossWatch 2014). When one woman sought his help after being fired, he told her
she would have to get on her knees and “act like another woman who moments before
their conversation, had been pressed close to him, standing between his legs” (Chira
and Einhorn 2017). Millender also threatened to move a worker to an overnight shift
if she did not lunch with him in his office and have sex with him (EbossWatch 2014).

Save for the failed efforts of one steward, the union took no steps to protect the
women, yet went out of its way to protect the accused harasser. When Millender
received a two-week suspension following a Company investigation, the union grieved
the case to arbitration. When plant rumors spread that Millender had been fired, UAW
Vice President Jimmy Settles quickly took to Facebook to clarify that Millender had
not been fired, only suspended and noted that “the UAW has filed a grievance chal-
lenging Mr. Millender’s suspension” (Settles 2015). By contrast, the union made no
statement concerning the brutal conditions that its female members were forced to
endure at the hands of supervisors and union agents.

A troubling pattern emerges from these cases: a victim complains to the union, the
union representative ignores her, or points her toward the employer, encouraging her
to file a complaint under the employer’s sexual harassment policy. The victim then
files a complaint with the employer, who, to avoid liability under Title VII, conducts

Avendaño 251

an investigation. When the employer disciplines a harasser, the union grieves the dis-
cipline, forcing the victim and the employer to align in opposition to the union and the
harasser. Indeed, sexual harassment grievances in labor arbitration overwhelmingly
involve men challenging discipline for sexually harassing conduct (Alleyne, 1999).

Part of the problem is that most unions do not bargain clauses specific to sexual
harassment but rely on general antidiscrimination clauses to cover sexual harassment.
That language gives unions little guidance on how to handle harassment claims, and,
given the complexity of the issue, the emotionally charged nature of harassment
claims, and the internal politics that often accompany such claims, it becomes much
easier for a grievance handler to simply push complaints to the employer. Canadian
unions, by contrast, have taken a different approach, negotiating clauses that deal spe-
cifically with harassment, and supplementing the collective bargaining language with
toolkits and training to make the protections accessible (Barnacle et al. 1994).

Lurking in the background is the union’s duty of fair representation, a legal obliga-
tion to treat all members of a bargaining unit fairly and not act in a manner that is
“arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.”7 That duty requires that the union conduct
an evaluation of the merits of a claim, and make a decision on how to proceed based
on a fair and impartial consideration of the interests of members, free from political
favoritism or ill will (O’melveny 2000). Unions have substantial leeway in this area;
they are not required to proceed with every grievance filed by an aggrieved member.
If the union’s investigation concludes that the alleged harasser acted in a manner that
violated the rules of the workplace, the union is not obligated to pursue a grievance on
his behalf.

The Way Forward: Understanding the Past

To become an authentic leader in combating workplace sexual harassment, unions
need to confront their past and present treatment of women. Bessie Hillman, the mili-
tant labor activist proclaimed in 1961,

I have a great bone to pick with the organized labor movement. They are the greatest
offender as far as discrimination against women is concerned. Today women in every
walk of life have bigger positions than they have in organized labor. (Murolo and Chitty

The labor movement’s exclusion of women from leadership positions—indeed, from
the movement itself—is rooted in long-standing sexism, a culture that values tradition
and loyalty at the expense of other values.

Male chauvinism and a nearly exclusive focus on economic factors like wages and
benefits have worked together throughout history to keep women in the labor move-
ment as second-class citizens. Of the 13 founding unions of the American Federation
of Labor (AFL), only two, the Typographical Union and Cigar Makers admitted
women (Murolo and Chitty 2001). By the late 1890s, most AFL national affiliates
amended their constitutions to allow for female membership, but found ways to keep

252 Labor Studies Journal 43(4)

women out. Even when women organized themselves, they were denied recognition.
In the early 1900s, women printers in New York, candy workers in Philadelphia, hair-
dressers in Seattle, and streetcar conductors in Cleveland organized and petitioned for
a charter that would formally recognize them as an affiliate of the AFL. The AFL
turned them down (Foner 1979; Murolo and Chitty 2001).

Nor did the AFL stand by women workers following World War I or World War II,
when women entered the workforce in large numbers. Diane Balser’s (1987, 26) study
of feminism in the labor movement exposes the antipathy that AFL leaders displayed
against women:

Most if not all of the AFL leadership was convinced that ‘a woman’s place is in the
home.’ The American Federationist, the AFL newspaper published many articles during
these years condemning the presence of women in the wage workforce and demanding
women’s exclusion from industry.

The UAW and United Electrical Workers (UE) pushed by Communists within their
ranks adopted equal pay as the official policy of the union in bargaining; no others did
(Foner 1979). Following World War II, organized labor participated in a cultural and
legal consensus that married women belonged in the home, and that they should leave
their jobs in the hands of returning veterans (Kessler-Harris 2001). Thus, women were
displaced, with little support from government or labor. Both national centers, the AFL
and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), were absent.

Worse, unions sanctioned discrimination against women through collective bar-
gaining. Several unions bargained prohibitions against the employment of married
women. Others agreed to the discharge of single women who married. Yet others bar-
gained unequal hiring of, and wage rates for, men and women doing similar jobs where
lower paying jobs were given to women (Foner 1979).

Well into the 1960s and 1970s, unions sided with employers on matters that benefit-
ted men at the expense of women workers, and especially women of color. Those
included protective measures like weight lifting restrictions, hours limitations, and
separate jobs for men and women (Crain 2007; Deslippe 2000). The International
Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) maintained a provision in its contract that
allowed the “son of an active deceased longshoreman” the right to join the union by
“taking his father’s union book”—a provision that remained until the 1970s, when a
Southern California female dock worker sued the union (Alimahomed-Wilson 2016,
158). Labor leaders also fought vehemently to lessen liability under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act for themselves, by trying to weaken the U.S. EEOC, and diverting
claims away from the courts to U.S. EEOC, for both gender and race (Crain 2007;
Crain and Matheny 2001). Some unions also strongly urged the U.S. EEOC to inter-
pret bona fide occupational qualifications narrowly, which would allow employers and
unions to continue to discriminate based on gender and race despite the antidiscrimi-
nation laws (Crain 2007; Deslippe 2000).8

Unions’ responses to sexual harassment are also shaped by a distinctive form of
feminism exercised by women inside the labor movement, which focuses on women’s

Avendaño 253

economic situation rather than on other social factors that keep women down. Women
leaders and staff have been reluctant to challenge internal sexism, now and in the past.
When women unionists formed the Coalition for Labor Union Women (CLUW) in
1974 as a constituency group of the AFL-CIO, they sought to develop a working wom-
en’s agenda without attacking the male labor establishment. They wanted to win sup-
port from and gain credibility within the official labor leadership (Balser 1987, 174).
Thus, they chose to focus on equal pay because “that campaign neither confronted
masculine-privileged employment practices nor directly challenged women’s margin-
alization in unions” (Deslippe 2000, 53). Women believed that it was not in their inter-
est to challenge the patriarchy or sexism within labor’s own ranks as it would subject
them to accusations of disloyalty and engender men’s wrath (Deslippe 2000). Women
were not open to debating critical issues about the labor movement’s culture of loyalty
because “one does not talk about family business in public” (Roth 2003, 179).

Women’s history in the labor movement evolved along labor markets that to this
day remain highly segmented by gender and race. Four in ten women work in female-
dominated occupations (where women make up at least 75% of the labor force), and
only 5.5 percent of all women work in male-dominated occupations, where the pay is
better, benefits are more plentiful, and chances for advancement abound (Institute for
Women’s Policy Research 2018). The gender composition of unions, particularly
those that are occupationally based, is related to labor market gender segmentation.
Some unions represent overwhelmingly male constituencies: the building trades,
pilots, and firefighters, to name a few (Milkman 2016). Other unions have large female
memberships, namely teachers’ and nurses’ unions. Unions that are organized around
industrial or sectoral lines like auto and steel also tend to be male-dominated. As Ruth
Milkman (2016) explains, “In the twenty-first century, the typical male union member
is a private-sector, blue-collar ‘hardhat,’ whereas the typical female union member is
a public-sector, white-collar or professional worker employed in education, health-
care, or public administration” (213).

Thus, it comes as no surprise that unions with majority female members have done
a much better job of addressing sexual harassment than those that are predominantly
male. Indeed, the Weinstein-era examples touted by the labor movement as taking an
aggressive stand against sexual harassment come from unions advocating for their
predominantly female members: UNITE HERE’s Hands Off Pants On campaign on
behalf of hotel workers who experience high rates of harassment from customers and
managers, and United Service Workers West’s Ya Basta! Coalition. The latter is an
effort by the janitors’ union in Los Angeles to address harassment in that industry
through a coalition of anti-violence advocates, worker advocates, union leaders, and
women worker leaders. Both efforts included raising public awareness and state legis-
lation, and were well underway before the Weinstein scandal broke.9

Notably, those efforts address harassment by the boss or third parties, not conduct
by union members, which unions remain reluctant to address. As the Writers Guild of
America West (WGAW) explained in its post-Weinstein statement, “the WGAW is a
union, not judge or jury” (Ng 2018).

254 Labor Studies Journal 43(4)

The Screen Actors Guild–Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-
AFTRA) faced criticism for its initial response to the Weinstein scandal, and for its
failure to address the issue before the scandal (Spector 2017; Ng 2018). Meissa
Hampton, an actress and founder of the Actors Alliance for Gender Equity in Media,
published an op-ed in the Guardian, where she outlined her efforts to secure the
union’s attention to the issue of sexual harassment in 2015 (Hampton 2018). The
actress authored a petition asking the union “to address gender inequities that fuel the
culture of sexual abuse in the industry,” and suggesting an internal committee to tackle
issues of discrimination. Her efforts failed. Similarly, the actress Mia Kirshner penned
an op-ed for the Toronto Globe and Mail titled “I Was not Protected from Harvey
Weinstein. It’s Time for Institutional Change” (Kirshner 2017). Speaking directly to
her union, she cautions that “change does not mean publishing another well-meaning
brochure or email blast about anti-harassment policies. Statements pledging support
for survivors of sexual harassment and assault are not going to cut it” (Kirshner 2017).

While SAG-AFTRA’s president, Gabrielle Carteris, has now articulated a long-
term, inclusive approach rooted in cultural change to eradicate sexual harassment, the
union’s initial response was much more cautious, focusing on the union’s own liabil-
ity. David White, SAG’s National Executive Director, explained in an email to a SAG
board member, “This is one of those extremely big, emotionally sensitive, legally
complex issues that has serious legal implicat

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