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More than a thousand California workers, interfaith leaders, community allies and elected officials kicked the California campaign to pass the Employee Free Choice Act into overdrive in recent days by participating in statewide overnight vigils.

The message was clear to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the only Democrat in California not currently signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill: Now is the time to reform labor law and rebuild the middle class.

In Los Angeles, California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski joined Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo for a noontime kick-off rally on Wednesday with more than 100 workers and community allies.

The vigil focused on building a better future for young workers and the next generation by passing the Employee Free Choice Act. Vigil participants also reflected on social justice campaigns of the past and how they relate to today’s struggle. Several other community groups, including the Sierra Club, came out to voice their support for Employee Free Choice.

Sierra Club senior organizer Bill Corcoran said the Employee Free Choice Act is a critical component of the new green economy.

Workers need a fair opportunity to unionize so we can make sure that the green economy provides good family-supporting jobs. The Sierra Club is proud to join its labor allies in fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act.

The Sierra Club is among many environmental groups to support the Employee Free Choice Act. At the closing ceremony, workers and religious and community leaders offered a blessing and called on Feinstein to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

In Sacramento, state Assembly member Alyson Huber joined with the Sacramento Central Labor Council, SEIU and more than 100 workers to kick off an 18-hour vigil and fast for the Employee Free Choice Act. In her opening remarks, Huber, who was elected with strong support from working people, said working families have been struggling in this economy for too long and now’s the time to level the playing field:

The Employee Free Choice Act is the single most important middle-class supporting legislation to be considered in decades. We simply can’t create an economy that works for everyone unless we restore the freedom to form and join unions.

On Wednesday evening, workers and interfaith leaders held a candlelight vigil. Fifteen vigil participants camped out all night in front of federal building and fasted for workers who have been fired or harassed trying to join a union. The overnight vigil and fast caught the attention of every major TV station and news outlet in the Sacramento area. The vigil took place a day after the Sacramento City Council approved a resolution in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

In San Francisco, elected officials, including San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Assembly member Fiona Ma and San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, joined the San Francisco Labor Council and hundreds of workers to voice their strong support for the bill.
Noted University of California-Berkeley economist Steven Pitts highlighted the economic necessity of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Academics and economists across the country agree that the Employee Free Choice Act is critical to rebuilding our economy and restoring the American Dream.

Workers and interfaith leaders held a candlelight vigil and started off Thursday morning with a sunrise prayer circle, a special Spanish-language press event and a big rally to close out the event at noon.
In Fresno, despite the hot weather, more than 250 Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Central Labor Council workers and supporters rallied at the Fresno federal building in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. Throughout the vigil, workers shared their stories about the struggles they encountered as they fought to organize against anti-union employers.

Arlana Stewart, a registered nurse at the St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, talked about the aggressive anti-union campaign she and her co-workers are trying to overcome to join the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) so they can be better advocates for their patients.

We are fighting for our right to bargain for better wages, working conditions and benefits. For professionals in the industry responsible for taking care of the community, all we ask is for what’s fair so we can take care of our families.

The group also wrote letters and made phone calls to Feinstein, urging her to renew her support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

In San Diego, more than 200 union members affiliated with the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council and community partners joined together outside a San Diego Wal-Mart for a 24-hour vigil, where they spoke out against the corporate giant’s anti-worker policies and opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. The vigil drew the attention of seven Wal-Mart managers who came out to investigate several times throughout the course of the vigil.

Vigil participants approached shoppers as they entered Wal-Mart and asked them, “If your signature is good enough to join the military, why doesn’t Wal-Mart believe it’s good enough to join a union?” Workers distributed 4,000 leaflets asking customers to pose this same question to Feinstein.