Industry News | March 24, 2009

Workers Nationwide Push Union-Friendly Legislation

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Hundreds of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) were on Capitol Hill today to speak with their elected officials and to urge the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. The legislation would help strengthen our economy by making it easier for workers in this country to join a union and bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

“I believe that if Congress really cares about fixing the economy, they should start by passing Employee Free Choice,” says James Satler, a former Fresh & Easy grocery worker from Huntington Beach who was fired recently for attempting to organize a union at his workplace. “It’s time our economy worked for everyone, not just CEOs.”

Satler, along with Celia Cisneros and Diane Garcia, were fired for trying to form a union at their California workplaces. They are in town to urge Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to support the bill, which would provide a fair process for workers join a union.

“I noticed a lot of things that weren’t right at work, and I called the union for help,” Garcia, a Pomona resident, says of her experience trying to form a union several years ago at Big Saver. “The company did not like the fact that we were trying to form a union, and they did everything they could to prevent unionization. In the end, they fired me.”

Cisneros’ experience is no different. Despite being a model worker for several years at Foster Farms, the Lindsay resident was fired when she became too involved with the union. “I worked there for seven years without having one point against me,” Cisneros says. “But when I became a vocal supporter of the union, they fired me and cut my medical insurance. I have a family to take care of. Fortunately, the union helped me get my job back.”

Workers from across the nation are meeting their respective elected officials to share their stories about forming a union in the workplace, and to urge them to make the passage of Employee Free Choice a priority.

Sixty million workers say they would join a union if they could. With Employee Free Choice, workers, not employers, will decide how to form a union. Workers will have the option of majority sign up in addition to a secret ballot election. The Free Choice legislation will establish meaningful penalties for employers who break the law and harass or fire workers for wanting a union. Finally, Employee Free Choice will ensure that workers gain a first contract through a provision that calls for binding arbitration if workers and management cannot reach a settlement agreement within 120 days.

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