Drawing on union convention proceedings, reports, newspapers, speeches, and internal memoranda, this article uses the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as a case study to explore organized labor’s response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. One the one hand, it shows that AFSCME eventually embraced an ambitious, two-pronged program that fought both for strong workplace safety measures for its members and against discrimination toward those most affected by HIV/AIDS. On the other, it highlights the ways in which the union’s campaign was constrained by a narrow focus on workplace hazards. Prioritizing workers’ protections over patients’ demands for privacy in diagnosis and treatment, AFSCME ultimately subsumed its rhetorical commitment to working-class solidarity beneath what many members saw as a practical need for somatic surveillance and segregation—marginalizing the very communities that the union claimed to protect.

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