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Hundreds Expected at Weekend Rally for Employee Free Choice Act

July 30, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A rally expected to attract hundreds to the state Capitol on Sunday envisions West Virginia workers making good wages, with solid health care benefits and protection against losing their jobs to cheaper labor. Larry Matheney, the secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, says the requirement for making that vision possible is passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which empowers workers to organize.

"The Employee Free Choice Act will put that decision in the hands of the employee. That, hopefully, will eliminate employers intimidating, harassing and coercing their workers."

Opponents of the act say it would hinder the secret ballot election a union vote should include, and would leave workers vulnerable to intimidation because others would know how they vote.

Matheney suggests that employers who claim the Employee Free Choice Act will cripple them with higher wages and more benefits should look at the 74-year-old National Labor Relations Act as a guide to the future.

"Not only will high wages bring long-term economic growth, but we can look back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935 and see that there is validation of that fact."

Matheney says the union also backs universal health care with contributions from employers and the wealthiest Americans. He adds that all signs point to the need for another round of stimulus money, too.

"As unemployment runs at nearly 10 percent in West Virginia, we believe there must be consideration of another stimulus package directed to the heart of the problem: putting people to work."

The rally will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday. More information is available from West Virginia AFL-CIO, 304-344-3557.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - WV