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The Employee Free Choice Act

Op-Ed by: John R. Durso, President Long Island Federation of Labor AFL-CIO In Response to the Comments by former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. on the Employee Free Choice Act Now more than ever, with our economy having survived near collapse, it is essential that members of Congress pass legislation like the Employee Free ChoiceAct to ease the burden working Americans face.

This bill expands the opportunities to access the benefits and protections of unions to millions of non-union workers across the country, raising the standard of living for those workers and their families.

It is the middle class that drives the economic growth and prosperity of this nation.  And historically, there is no better way for working people to join the middle class than through unions. As the President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, I know that union contracts provide higher wages with healthcare & pension benefits that allow working Americans to provide for their families while knowing their retirement is secure.   Over the past decade we have seen a real shift as this country suffered through the Bush Doctrine of prioritizing corporate greed over the needs of working Americans, leaving millions unable to sustain a middle class lifestyle. As President Obama stated in his State of the Union Address, “The problem is, that’s what we did for eight years. That’s what helped lead us into this crisis.  It’s what helped lead to these deficits.  And we cannot do it again.”  However, some who claim to support labor refuse to support the bill — like former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. Mr. Ford is actively pursuing the support of labor as a potential candidate in New York’s 2010 Senatorial race. But in recent comments in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Ford writes that the Employee Free Choice Act “should not be the focus right now” as a means of lowering the country’s over 10% unemployment rate. At a time like this, New York State should be producing innovative leaders in Washington who understand the plight of working people and are willing to make tough votes to help improve their livelihoods.  When it comes to labor relations, Mr. Ford seems to contradict himself. He supports the right to organize but is unwilling to pursue legislation that makes this right a reality for working people. Unions are crucial to economic recovery in the United States. They limit the struggles of working men and women by providing the necessary tools that make it possible to live a quality life. The Employee Free Choice Act and the right to organize go hand in hand. The same is true of the Employee Free Choice Act and reducing the number of unemployed. If Mr. Ford does not realize this then he is unfit to be New York’s Senator and unworthy of the support of working families. John R. Durso is the President of Local 338,RWDSU/UFCW and President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

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