Rally in Pittsburgh, roundtable in Madison and more action on employee free choice

Original source: This week, state and local unions around the country mobilized to pass the Employee Free Choice Act to restore the freedom to form unions and bargain and make the economy work for everyone.

In Pennsylvania, workers gathered in Pittsburgh to support the Employee Free Choice Act and highlight a new report that shows how much workers in each state would stand to gain in wages if the act passed and how more workers could form unions. In Pennsylvania, an increase in the rate of union membership of just 5 percent would increase total wages by $852 million.

Economist Mark Price spoke at the Pittsburgh rally, where he pointed out that restoring bargaining power to workers was essential to creating a balance between workers and corporations and rebuilding the middle class. During the midcentury expansion of the U.S. economy, Price said, strong levels of union membership ensured that ”when workers were more productive,” their work generated more wealth, that wealth would show up in their paychecks.

The Pittsburgh rally also featured workers like Keli Vereb, a member of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1408, who talked about what union membership has meant to her family: a fair wage, good benefits and the opportunity to send her daughter to college.

In Madison, Wis., U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin was the featured speaker at a roundtable event in support of the Employee Free Choice Act organized by the South Central Federation of Labor. Ryan Wolfe, a member of Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA) Local 565 in Madison, was among union members taking part. He said a seat at the bargaining table is vital to allowing workers a better life and a fair share of the economy:

Every employee should have the right to do what I have done. Through my union I have been able to negotiate with my employer for things that have made my family better off. The Employee Free Choice Act will extend that opportunity to more Wisconsin workers.

(You can watch streaming video or listen to audio of the entire event at Wisconsin Eye TV.)

In Maine, a rally for the Employee Free Choice Act featured U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud as well as leaders from the state House and Senate. Michaud was a 30-year paper mill worker before winning his seat and currently is a member of USW Local 4-00037.

At a Wednesday event in Lincoln, Neb., state federaton President Ken Mass said the Employee Free Choice Act would “restore the broken link between productivity and pay.” Nebraska unions members have begun a letter-writing campaign to their state’s U.S. senators in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

In Virginia, the state AFL-CIO legislative conference focused on the Employee Free Choice Act, and union members wrote letters to their senators as well urging them to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Workers and their allies also held rallies in support of the Employee Free Choice Act in Chicago; Montana; Raleigh, N.C.; and Sacramento, Calif.

Union members also are working hard to raise funds for the Turn Around America Media Fund, to counteract the multimillion-dollar anti-worker disinformation campaign run by corporate front groups. State federations in Nevada, North Carolina and Minnesota all successfully raised funds this week