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Veterans Push for Employee Free Choice

(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)

Yesterday in Norfolk, Va., union veterans held the first event of what will be a nationwide campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act, uniting union and nonunion veterans from across the country in support of the freedom to form unions and bargain.

In a dozen states,, Veterans and Military Families for Progress (VMFP), Veterans’ Alliance for Security and Democracy (VETPAC) and the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council are teaming up to host military veterans, family members and union members for rallies, roundtable discussions and mobilization events. More than 2 million union members—14 percent of all union members—are veterans and, along with national veterans’ groups, they’re ready to mobilize for a level playing field in the workplace and the freedom to bargain for the economic opportunity they deserve.

Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and the chairman of, says freedom of assembly and the right to bargain for a better life is a critical part of the American promise that needs to be kept.

The freedom to organize is an American value, one of the many values we veterans fought to protect. Past generations of veterans were able to enter the middle class because unions were there to fight for fair wages and benefits. The Employee Free Choice Act ensures that veterans and civilians in the workforce will continue to get a fair shake, which is why we’re proud to support it.

Richard Hatch, an Army veteran and member of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 2201 in southeast Virginia, attended the Norfolk roundtable yesterday. Hatch, who wrote letters to his senators asking them to support the Employee Free Choice Act, says that the freedom to form unions and bargain is a value he strongly believes in.

The reason I signed up to fight is that I believed in the ideal of freedom and why and how America was founded. You have to buy into that to put your life on the line. When you see the injustice that’s going on in this country right now—where corporations and their CEOs negotiate their own contracts but workers are stripped day in and day out of their basic rights—that’s not why I joined the military and that’s not what I was fighting for.

The voices of veterans will be a valuable addition to the broad national coalition behind the Employee Free Choice Act.

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