Thousands Rally for Freedom to Form Unions

The AFL-CIO commemorated International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, with a two-day Organizing Summit and a big rally in Washington, DC for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). International Human Rights Day memorializes the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the freedom of all workers to form unions and bargain together as a basic human right. Passage of the EFCA is the labor movement’s top priority for the new Congress. The Act would make it easier for workers to join unions and reign in employer abuses against workers who want to organize their workplace.

“It is no accident that the 25-year decline in workers’ wages in our country has paralleled a 25-year slide in the size and strength of the American Labor Movement,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “Unions are the surest way workers protect themselves against corporate greed and lift their families up into higher standards of living.”

Sweeney led delegates to Capitol Hill to rally with more than 2,000 union activists and friends chanting and calling for rapid passage of the EFCA. Among those braving the cold was incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass).

“Twenty thousand workers a year are fired because they tried to bring workers together to form a union,” Kennedy told the demonstrators. He pledged to re-introduce the bill early next year in the Senate. In the House, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the incoming chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, also plans to re-introduce EFCA. Before the Democrats recaptured control of Congress, the bill had more than 200 co-sponsors in the House and more than 40 Senate supporters.