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UFCW Members and Workers Visit Congress to Urge Passage of Employee Free Choice

UFCW members and other workers from across the country will be visiting the halls of Congress today to speak with their elected officials and urge passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Throughout the day, workers will be visiting their respective elected officials to share their stories about forming a union in the workplace, and to urge them to make the passage of the critical bill a priority.

Many of the workers have experienced firsthand the disappointment of being unable to join a union, despite the fact that a majority of they and their co-workers wanted to join one. Darlene Bruzio and her co-workers at Giant Eagle grocery store in Pennsylvania lost their union election, despite having majority support at work, because of employer interference. She said:

When you have more 80% support like we did at my store and still lose an election, you know that the system is broken. Congress has to realize that and pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Another grocery worker, James Satler, is a former Fresh and Easy worker from California who says he was fired for trying to organize a union at his workplace:

I believe that if Congress really cares about fixing the economy, it should pass Employee Free Choice because it will allow us to have better wages and benefits. Our economy is stronger when more American workers have more money to spend.

Satler, along with Celia Cisneros and Diane Garcia, say they were fired for trying to form a union at their California workplaces. They are in town to urge Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to support the bill, which would provide a fair process for workers join a union.

"I noticed a lot of things that weren’t right at work and I called the union for help," Garcia, a Pomona resident, said of her experience trying to form a union several years ago at Big Saver:

The company did not like the fact that we were trying to form a union and they did everything they could to prevent unionization. In the end, they fired me.

Cisneros’ experience is no different. Despite being a model worker for several years at Foster Farms, the Lindsay resident was fired when she became too involved with the union. She said:

I worked there for seven years without having one point against me. But when I became a vocal supporter of the union, they fired me and cut my medical insurance. I have a family to take care of. Fortunately, the union helped me get my job back.

UFCW Local 700 member Rick Jackson, a grocery worker in Indiana, is here today to urge Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Evan Bayh (D-IN) to support the bill.

"The union helped me and I know that having a union at work makes a difference," said Jackson, a meat manager from Huntington:

With the union, our wages are better and our health insurance is more affordable. Some of my coworkers who’ve been with the company for over 34 years but work part-time also have good benefits because we have a union.

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Amber Sparks is a Senior Communications Specialist for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream.

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