July 30, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement in Support of Making Union Organizing a Civil Right

WASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding the Employee Empowerment Act.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to organized labor as the ‘principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.’ He believed, as we do, that union rights are civil rights. For decades, these rights have been under attack by those who want to deny workers a voice on the job. Workers are routinely fired or otherwise retaliated against for standing up and speaking out. This is against the law. But too many employers would rather pay fines under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) than allow for a process that lets workers choose a union freely and fairly. To them, these minimal penalties are not a deterrent, but the cost of doing business.

“The Employee Empowerment Act would amend the NLRA to give victims of labor discrimination the same protections available under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Currently, back pay is the only remedy available to these workers. Passage of this legislation would give victims the right to sue for compensatory and punitive damages in federal court, ensuring employers are held appropriately accountable for illegal retaliation and truly discouraging anti-union activity.

“The rise in labor discrimination hurts all Americans, but especially workers of color. Unionized African-American workers make 36 percent more than their non-union counterparts. For Latino workers, the union advantage is even greater. I urge Congress to swiftly pass this legislation which is good for workers, our economy, and builds on the successes of the Civil Rights Act.”


The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.