Monday, September 1, 2014

Should unionization be a civil right? You be the judge.

CREDO action
Tell Congress: Protect workers’ right to organize
Sign the petition top Congress:
"Pass the Employee Empowerment Act, which would protect workers from unjust discrimination in their workplaces when they attempt to organize to fight for better wages and working conditions."
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Dear Jim,
In recent years, in state capitols like Madison, Wisconsin, to the halls of Congress in Washington D.C., workers have been under relentless attack by big corporations and their powerful Republican allies.
At the same time, there’s been an inspiring nationwide groundswell of organizing for fair wages and better treatment at fast-food restaurants, Walmart and other low wage retailers. But workers still lack basic protections from employer discrimination and can be fired or harassed just for the simple act of speaking out.
Two progressive champions - Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis - have launched a “dramatic counter-offensive” by introducing legislation to defend the right of workers to organize unions.1 The Employee Empowerment Act would protect workers from employer discrimination by making labor organizing a civil right. Now more than ever, we need to show solidarity with workers and fight for their right to organize for better wages and working conditions.
Currently, if workers are discriminated against for trying to form a union, they have very limited legal options under the National Labor Relations Act. While they can file for grievances, the slow and lenient process leaves too many workers without pay and does not hold offending employers accountable.2
The Ellison-Lewis legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act so that firing an employee “on the basis of seeking union membership” would be illegal -- just as it is now illegal to fire someone on the basis of race, color, sex, religion or national origin.3
The struggle against economic inequality shares many of the same values of the civil rights movement. As Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit recently articulated in a widely read New York Times op-ed:
The labor and civil rights movements have shared values (advancing human dignity), shared interests (people of color are disproportionately working-class), shared historic enemies (the Jim Crow South was also a bastion of right-to-work laws) and shared tactics (sit-ins, strikes and other forms of nonviolent protest). Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, it should be remembered, was gunned down in Memphis in 1968, where he was supporting striking black sanitation workers who marched carrying posters with the message “I Am a Man.”... 4 [emphasis added]
This is the first step in a long-term strategy to get Republicans in Congress on the record for supporting or opposing the rights of workers who are fighting to take care of their families’ basic needs and striving for a chance to succeed in today’s economy. This Labor Day weekend is an important time to show Congress that there is strong support for this crucial bill and elevate the discussion around the lack of protections for workers’ rights in our labor laws.
Tell Congress: Protect our workers by voting for the Employee Empowerment Act. Click below to sign the petition.
We need an economy that works for all of us—not one that undermines the rights of workers while giving corporations a free pass.
Thanks for speaking out in support of workers’ rights.
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
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  1. A Bill to get the Labor Movement Back on Offense,” The Nation, July 28, 2014.
  2. *ibid.
  3. A Civil Right to Unionize,” The New York Times, February 29, 2012.
  4. ibid.

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