Passage of Employee Free Choice would be patriotic, veterans say

(Workday Minnesota) MOORHEAD, Minn. - With the Memorial Day weekend at hand, veterans from five wars voiced their support for the Employee Free Choice Act in a press conference held at the Hjemkomst Center here. The veterans expressed their concern that the men and women who have worn our country’s uniform are denied some of the basic rights they fought to defend and are just scraping by. Too often, veterans return to unemployment or low-wage jobs.

Torrey Schatz, an Iraq war veteran and member of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union, agrees, noting, “Just like the army fights for freedom of choice, so does the Employee Free Choice Act.”

The Employee Free Choice Act would allow workers, not corporations, to choose whether and how they want to form a union. It would give workers a fair chance to form unions to improve their lives by:

• Guaranteeing that if a majority of workers wants a union, they can have one, allowing them to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation;

• Providing mediation and arbitration for first contract disputes; and

• Establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first contract negotiations.

Rick Olek, Vietnam veteran and letter carrier in Fargo, N.D., sees the Employee Free Choice Act as a tool that will energize workers. He postulates that “if both the workers and management bargain in good faith for the first contract, it can be a win-win situation. When the workers are happy and have a contract that protects them, productivity goes up. When productivity goes up, management is happy.”

“Workers’ rights are a fundamental issue, just like the safety of our country. The Employee Free Choice Act will strengthen veterans’ abilities to pursue the American Dream upon return.”