Employee Free Choice Act Introducted in Congress

by Seth Michaels, Mar 10, 2009,  Original Post: Here

The Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate today, launching the legislative battle to restore workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life.

It’s a great day for working families and a sign of the change that America voted for last fall. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) announced the bill’s launch at the Senate, along with workers whose struggles to form unions illustrate the need to give workers, not bosses, the ability to choose how to form a union, as well as a guarantee of a contract and protection from employer intimidation, coercion and firing.

Photo credit: Rick Reinhard
Sen. Tom Harkin shows how without unions, and the Employee Free Choice Act, America’s workers fall behind.

Deborah Kelly, one of the workers testifying today before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee about the importance of protecting the freedom to form a union, says her union is vital to protect her and her family.

As a line man apprentice for the Chugach Electric Association, I work hard every day, in sometimes dangerous conditions, to provide power to the Anchorage, Alaska, area. I am truly honored to testify before Congress about how I have benefited from joining a union. Thanks to my union, I work with the most highly trained people in the industry and I know I will come home safe every night.

Photo credit: Kaveh Sardari
Workers spoke at today’s press conference for the need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, including Sharon Harrison from CWA; Kelly Badillo, SEIU; and Deborah Kelly from IBEW.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says introduction of this bill is a strong message in support of working families.

Today is a banner day for working Americans, a milestone on the road to rebuilding our nation’s middle class—and it couldn’t come at a more crucial time. We thank the House of Representatives and the Senate for introducing the Employee Free Choice Act, which will restore workers’ freedom to bargain for fair wages, job security, better health care and secure pensions. Special thanks also goes to Congressman Miller, Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Harkin for being the lead sponsors and champions for America’s working families.

We are confident the Employee Free Choice Act is going to become the law of the land.

Carol Pier of Human Rights Watch, one of the dozens of organizations backing the Employee Free Choice Act, says U.S. labor laws need the kind of fair opportunity that workers around the world have.

Weak U.S. labor law effectively denies millions of workers the right to form a union and bargain collectively. Congress should bring worker protections closer to international standards by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

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