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15,000 Workers Fired or Punished for Union Support So Far This Year
American Rights at Work launches e-advocacy campaign to educate the public and generate support for labor law reform

August 31, 2005

Kimberly Freeman
202-822-2127, ext. 111
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 WASHINGTON, DC—As of today, over 15,000 workers in America have been fired or discriminated against for demonstrating support for a union.  In an effort to raise awareness about this crisis in observance of Labor Day, American Rights at Work released a short Flash video today, titled "15,000 Workers," as the centerpiece of an e-advocacy campaign designed to build support for labor law reform.  To view the video, click here.

"This isn't happening to strangers," says David Bonior, the former Michigan congressman who now chairs the board of the nonprofit workers' rights advocacy group. "These are our nurses, school bus drivers, and favorite grocery store clerks. This campaign will put a face on this crisis."

Tracking the federal government's own data, American Rights at Work found that an average of over 23,000 men and women are fired or penalized annually for exercising their legal rights to form or join a union.  Last December the group launched a ’workers' rights violations ticker’ on its website to count in real time the number of workers whose democratic rights are violated each year; that ticker has just recently passed the 15,000 mark.

"Every 23 minutes a worker suffers retaliation just because they supported a union at work," says Mary Beth Maxwell, Executive Director of American Rights at Work. "America's workers deserve better and it's time for Congress to enact meaningful reform to protect their rights."

American Rights at Work supports the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1696 and S. 842) as a critical first step in stemming the tide of workers' rights violations.  The bill, introduced in Congress this year by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), and (Representatives Peter King (R-NY) and George Miller (D-CA), strengthens protections for workers during union representation drives, toughens penalties for employers who violate workers' rights, and offers mediation so that employers and unions reach contracts within a reasonable period of time.

"15,000 Workers" features an animated photo montage of dozens of workers' faces, after which several brief screens of text appear explaining problems workers face when they support a union at work.  The end of the video prompts viewers to send a message to their representatives in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

"Just in time for Labor Day, we're offering people a meaningful way to take action and protect democracy in the American workplace," says Bonior.