September 1 is Labor Day — a day to celebrate America’s workers. Our country has celebrated Labor Day for more than a century as an official national holiday, a day to honor those who work to build America. Unfortunately there hasn’t been much to celebrate for Labor Day lately; the middle class is being gutted, income inequality is the greatest since 1928, and only 12% of our workforce can say they’re members of a union. Let’s just say the last 8 years haven’t helped, either.
But starting Labor Day 2008, workers’ rights advocacy group American Rights at Work is taking to the airwaves with a national TV ad campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act. You can see the ad — part of a $5 million effort — on CNN and MSNBC, and in 7 states: Alaska, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Oregon. The state-based ads will focus on educating the public on the positionsâ€™ of political leaders, and urging the public to call them to express their support for the legislation in the Senate.
The Employee Free Choice Act is a bill that will take on the critical issues facing Americaâ€™s struggling middle class by making it easier for people to form or join a union. One of the main aims of the bill is to bring back balance to the workplace; right now, even if 100% of your coworkers wanted to join a union, your CEO could veto your decision. What the Employee Free Choice Act does is take away CEOs’ veto power, giving workers a free choice to have a union if they want it.
It passed the House last year and got 51 votes in the Senate before it was blocked by a Republican filibuster (a vote for which John McCain actually showed up…to vote against the bill).
Our ad campaign also comes out to set the record straight in response to anti-union, corporate-funded front groups stopping at nothing to mislead the American public about the Employee Free Choice Act. The corporate special interests that are against improving workersâ€™ standard of living do not represent a majority of the public. A poll released last week by the nonpartisan Drum Major Institute found that 68 percent of middle class Americans wish their member of Congress had voted in favor of the bill.
We need the Employee Free Choice Act because we need more America to have more union members. When unions are strong, the economy is strong. Not only do unions you the ability to negotiate in your workplace, but they lift up even those who aren’t union members. And get this: if you have a heart attack, you’re 5.5% more likely to survive if your nurse is a union member.
So during this Labor Day season, take the time to reflect on America’s workers, past and present, and how they’ve helped our country. Then get ready to help make our economy work for everyone again by joining our campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act. (And if you like our ad, chip in to help keep it on the air.)
About the Author: Michael Whitney is a progressive Internet strategist and web producer who got his start in online politics as one of the co-founders of Generation Dean, the youth outreach organization of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Now he coordinates the new media efforts of the workers’ rights advocacy group American Rights at Work, where he’s worked since 2004. Michael says, “Rush Limbaugh called me “clueless” once. He went into rehab two days later. I win!”