Opinion

N.C. lawmakers lining up against workers' rights

From MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer, North Carolina AFL-CIO:

I'm disappointed that the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a rally for CEOs and politicians Aug. 19 to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act and other pro-worker legislation. It's a shame N.C. politicians, including Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Rep. Patrick McHenry, are lining up to fight legislation that will protect workers' rights. More shameful are their voting records on legislation that would help working families. Rep. Robin Hayes, who is expected to attend, cast the deciding vote for CAFTA just two years after Pillowtex closed and his district suffered the state's worst job loss. His district will lose 2,500 more jobs as Philip Morris closes and increases production overseas.

Reps. Virginia Foxx and Sue Myrick, also slated for the rally, voted against increased funding for the Trade Adjustment Assistance program that helps workers who were laid off due to trade. All the politicians expected at the rally voted against $50 billion in tax relief for 23 million middle-class families. They also voted against allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower medicine costs for seniors. Given those votes, it's no surprise these politicians are joining the Chamber to deal workers another blow by opposing legislation that would protect workers' freedom to organize for a better life.

This legislation is needed because union elections bear no resemblance to the democratic elections we have to elect public officials. In those elections, it is illegal for companies to bully workers and influence their votes. In union elections, however, corporations routinely pressure workers to vote against the union. One in five union supporters is illegally fired during organizing campaigns. The Free Choice Act would level the playing field and allow workers to form a union when a majority sign authorization cards.

This fall voters want to know what elected officials have done to help working people. For the officials who are stumping at the Chamber's rally, the answer is not a whole lot.

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