March 24, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC – UFCW members from across the country visited the halls of Congress today to speak with their elected officials and to urge passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. The workers, who have tried to join the UFCW, came to Washington to share their stories about forming a union in the workplace and to urge their elected representatives in Congress to make the passage of Employee Free Choice a priority.
The action comes on the heels of the introduction earlier this month of the legislation in both the Senate and the House.
“I believe that if Congress really cares about fixing the economy and rebuilding the middle class, it should pass the Employee Free Choice Act,” said James Satler, a former Fresh & Easy grocery worker from California. “The economy should work for everyone, not just CEOs.” Satler was fired for attempting to organize a union at his workplace.
Despite having majority support at work, Darlene Bruzio and her co-workers at Giant Eagle in Pennsylvania lost their union election because of employer interference. “When you have more than 80% support for joining a union, like we did at my store, and still lose an election, you know that the system is broken,” Bruzio said. “Members of Congress should stop the corporations that are gaming the system by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.”
While most workers’ stories heard in Congress today highlight the intimidation and harassment workers face when trying to form a union, Armando Martinez, a Hormel Foods worker from Nebraska, shared a positive experience of getting a voice on the job without intimidation. “I know that having a union makes the difference because I have worked in places where employees are threatened when they try to get a voice on the job,” Martinez said. “When I started working at the Hormel Foods plant in Freemont, the UFCW already represented the workers. All I needed to do was sign up to show I wanted to join the union—all without any intimidation or harassment from the company.”
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 an agreement within 120 days.
Photos of today’s event are available. Media inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.