by Max Brantley
The AFL-CIO said about 1,500 turned out for its march from Central High to a Capitol rally for the Employee Free Choice Act. A blog post earlier this morning linked to a John Brummett column about the event, a joint union effort to bring pressure on Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor.
NOTED: State Rep. Steve Harrelson participated in the day's events, even posted a picture of himself with labor bosses on his blog.
On Saturday July 11th, national labor leaders joined over 1,500 Arkansas workers in Little Rock for a rally in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, which will restore workers’ freedom to join a union and bargain for a better life.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, the first African-American executive officer of the AFL-CIO and widely known civil rights leader, joined other national labor, civil rights, and faith leaders in an historic march and rally. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka, Arkansas AFL-CIO President Alan Hughes, Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Rechenbach, and Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard led hundreds of union and faith and civil rights activists in the first of its kind demonstration in Little Rock.
Early Saturday morning, workers traveled from all over Arkansas to meet at Central High School. There, they remembered the sacrifices and contribution of the Little Rock 9 to freedom for all people in America. Led by Arkansas ministers, the assembled marched to another rally on the steps of the State Capitol featuring local faith leaders and local elected leaders in an even louder call for Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor to vote for the Employee Free Choice Act. The marchers concluded with an old-fashioned Arkansas catfish fry at the adjacent Arkansas Education Association building.
Workers across America have launched the largest grassroots mobilization effort since the November election to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill will provide workers with a greater voice on the job and will allow them to bargain collectively for higher wages, benefits, and job security. It would additionally allow for workers to join a union through majority sign up and take away the right of corporations to demand a ballot election, giving the choice of majority sign-up or an election to the workers.