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James Satler worked as a grocery employee in Huntington Beach, CA. He went to Fresh & Easy from Trader Joe’s, excited by Fresh & Easy’s promises of competitive pay, affordable healthcare and promotional opportunities.

But the Fresh & Easy never lived up to the promises they made. James couldn't afford the health care, made less than he was told he'd make--and somehow those promotional opportunities never came up for him.

So James did what millions of workers do every year when conditions at their workplace are unsatisfactory--he decided to try to organize a union at Fresh & Easy. He signed a union card and talked to his co-workers about the benefits of forming a union, becoming more active the more convinced he became that a union was the right way to go. You know where this is going, right?

When James and his co-workers asked Fresh & Easy to allow a neutral party to compare the cards signed against a list of employees provided by the company, so that they could see a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted to join the union--James and his co-workers' proposal was rejected and management insisted that they, not employees, be allowed to dictate the terms under which employees could choose to form a union.

Fresh & Easy then refused to recognize their employees' decision to form a union.

Then, Fresh & Easy starting treating James differently, disciplining him for things that other employees were allowed to do, and finally firing James for what he believes were trumped up reasons to cover the REAL cause--his vocal support of a union.

James worked hard and wanted to move up in his grocery career and support his family. As he says:

I might still have a job at Fresh & Easy if management had been forced to respect our decision to form a union. Instead, I lost my job and now I have to try to pursue justice through the National Labor Relations Board, which could take years. The system just doesn't work.

The process for forming a union is broken. That's why over 250,000 UFCW members and workers like James signed cards this years in support of passing Employee Free Choice--a bill that would make it easier for workers to form unions--with fear of intimidation or retaliation by employers. Employee Free Choice would level the playing field for working families in America.

And hundreds of thousands of other workers have joined us in signing cards. In fact, 1.5 million union members and supporters have signed cards to pass Employee Free Choice. And today, James will join thousands of workers in Washington, D.C., to deliver thousands of petitions demanding Congress pass the Employee Free Choice Act and make the economy work for everyone.

At 12:30 pm, a rally kicks off outside the U.S. Capitol, and workers will speak out about why the Employee Free Choice is needed to help level the playing field and fix our broken economy. Many of these workers are like James--workers who've been harrassed, intimidated, and fired for trying to form and union and improve their working conditions, wages, and benefits. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), two sponsors of the Employee Free Choice Act, will also speak about why this legislation is important.

Afer the rally, James and other workers will visit their members of Congress and tell their stories to underline the importance of passing Employee Free Choice. For more from workers on why this legislation is so important, go here and here. And tell your members of Congress today that you support Employee Free Choice so we can get back on our feet and rebuild our economy with a strong workforce.  

Cross-posted at MyUFCW.org

Originally posted to 4workers on Wed Feb 04, 2009 at 09:03 AM PST.

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