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Feb. 14: On the Hill

American Rights at Work brought the voices of workers and experts to the Hill to share why the right to organize is essential to preserving and growing America’s middle class.  On Friday, February 9, we hosted a general congressional briefing, "A Solution to the Middle Class Squeeze: The Employee Free Choice Act," to a packed Capitol Hill audience.

The event capped off a full week of events in which American Rights at Work staff, board members, and academics joined workers to participate in press events, hearings and briefings surrounding the introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act. 

At the briefing:

  • Our Executive Director Mary Beth Maxwell summarized the obstacles facing workers who try to form a union;

  • Author Beth Shulman described the essential role unions play in building the middle class;

  • Political scientist Gordon Lafer, Ph.D, author of our report, "Free and Fair? How U.S. Labor Laws Fail U.S. Democratic Election Standards," highlighted why NLRB elections are in no way comparable to political elections.

Sharing their personal experiences were workers from Virginia, North Carolina, and California:

  • Teresa Joyce , Cingular Wireless Customer Service Representative, experienced firsthand the difference between an employer that uses the law to intimidate and coerce its employees, and one that voluntarily abides by provisions included in the Employee Free Choice Act.

  • Keith Ludlum, reinstated Smithfield Packing Company employee, was illegally fired for trying to form a union. The Operation Desert Storm vet had to wait 12 long years for the NLRB to order Smithfield to reinstate him.

  • Ivo Camilo, retired Blue Diamond Growers vend pack operator, was fired when he exercised his right to join a union after 35 years as an exemplary employee.

These heroic workers also delivered powerful testimony on the need for the Employee Free Choice Act before the House Sub-Committee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions on February 8.