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American Rights at Work Honors Investment Firm, Artists, and Wireless Provider

April 6, 2006

Kimberly Freeman
202-822-2127, ext. 111
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WASHINGTON, DC—From Hollywood to Wall Street and onto the nation’s capital, a diverse network of leaders is embracing workers’ rights as a key element of their vision for democracy, social justice, and human rights.  Tonight, workers’ rights advocacy group American Rights at Work recognizes five such individuals and organizations for their actions as outspoken artists and activists, fair employers, and responsible investors at its second annual Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Awards ceremony.

Honored this year are actor Danny Glover, investment firm Walden Asset Management, telecommunications leader Cingular Wireless, and musician Tom Morello.  Writer Studs Terkel will receive a lifetime achievement award.  Hosted by actress-comedienne (“Selena”) Jackie Guerra, the award ceremony will also feature remarks by American Rights at Work Board member Senator John Edwards and Board Chair David Bonior.

Since 2003, American Rights at Work has educated the American public about the struggle to win workplace democracy for nurses, cooks, computer programmers, retail cashiers, and a variety of workers who we all depend on every day.  The organization’s award is named after Eleanor Roosevelt, a long-time union member who was instrumental in the passage of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The treaty states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to form and join trade unions.” 

This year’s Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights awardees reflect the institutions and communities outside of the labor movement that view protecting workers’ rights as good for business and crucial for a vibrant democratic society.  Artists are lending their fame and creativity to end the daily struggle plaguing too many hardworking Americans and their families.  Investment firms like Walden Asset Management pressure corporate boards to factor workers’ rights into their core business practices.  Cingular Wireless, the nation’s largest wireless digital voice and data network provider, achieves a true partnership with its employees and their unions.

“People come together to organize unions as a means to create good working conditions and to improve the future for America’s working families.  It’s encouraging to see the breadth of support for workers’ rights from activists, elected leaders, workers and more and more of their employers,” said David Bonior, chair of American Rights at Work. “When companies, like Cingular and Walden Asset Management, take the high road on workers’ rights, we all benefit.”

“The Communications Workers of America is an important strategic partner for Cingular," said Rick Bradley, Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Cingular Wireless.  “We share mutual goals and values, enabling us to continue operating successfully in a very competitive environment.”

“What brings workers together can be a belief, a hope of improving the climate and community at work – the spaces where so many of us spend so much of our lives,” said Studs Terkel.  “Respect on the job and a voice at the workplace shouldn’t be something Americans have to work overtime to achieve.”

“How employers manage health and safety in the workplace or how labor rights are respected are issues important for employees and investors alike.  Companies can, and should, do good right alongside doing well,” said Tim Smith, Senior Vice President of Walden Asset Management.  

“Working people support all of us.  From the baggage handlers at the airports to the ticket sellers at the theatres, everyone deserves dignity on the job.  Communities all across the country are attempting to realize that dream through organizing.  I am honored to support them in their struggle,” said acclaimed actor Danny Glover.

“Music and the arts feed our souls, but a decent wage puts food on the table,” said musician and activist Tom Morello.  “Musicians, fans of music, and grassroots political organizations are a potent force to fight for social justice.”