September 11, 2014: It’s time to make a worker’s right to speak out for unions, without employer retaliation, a civil right. Two members of Congress have introduced the Employee Empowerment Act, to give the right to organize protections found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
You can learn more and sign a petition of support.
The bill has little chance of passing at present, but is an important part of building a movement to defend workers’ rights and revitalize the labor movement.
Now is the time. Recently we have seen workers at Walmart and other anti-union giants start to stand up, but face firing with little protection. Present NLRB protections are slow and inadequate, so many employers routinely violate them.
Corporate spokespersons claim that unions are in decline because workers don’t need them anymore. But in other countries, such as Canada or Germany, the picture is very different, because workers have more legal protections.
The labor and civil rights movements have always had a lot in common. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it should be remembered, was gunned down in Memphis in 1968, where he was supporting striking black sanitation workers who marched carrying posters with the message “I Am a Man.”
As Dr. King stated to the 1961 AFL-CIO convention referring to the labor and civil rights movements, “Together, we can be the architects of democracy.” Workers deserve legal protections to allow that to happen.