Arlene Holt Baker, the first African-American executive officer of the AFL-CIO and widely known civil rights leader, will join other national labor, civil rights, and faith leaders in an historic march and rally this Saturday, July 11 in Little Rock, Ark.
National Electrical Workers President Ed Hill, Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Reichenbach, Steelworkers National President Leo Gerard, and soon-to-be National AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka will lead hundreds of union and faith and civil rights activists in the first of its kind demonstration in Little Rock on July 11.
Early that Saturday morning workers will begin caravaning from all over Arkansas to meet at Central High School in Little Rock at 1 pm. There, they will remember the sacrifices and contribution of the Little Rock 9 to freedom for all people in America. AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker and others will draw the parallels between America's civil rights struggle and workers rights struggles today. Just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 opened the doors to greater freedoms for African-Americans, the Employee Free Choice Act will open the door for workers to freely form unions and bargain collectively.
Soon-to-be AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Steelworker President Leo Gerard and Electrical Workers Preisdent Ed Hill will call on Arkansas' Congressional Delegation including Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln to support and vote for the Employee Free Choice Act.
Then, led by Arkansas ministers, the assembled hundreds will march to the State Capitol area for another rally featuring local faith leaders such as Rev. Steve Copley and local elected leaders in an even louder call for Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor to vote for the Employee Free Choice Act.
After the second rally the marchers will gather at the Arkansas Education Association for an old-fashioned Arkansas catfish fry.
The Employee Free Choice Act, expected to move in the US Senate soon with the seating of new Minnesota Senator Al Franken, will restore workers freedom to form unions and bargain collectively by streamlining the process for union formation, creating serious penalties on corporations that violate the law, and allowing for arbitration to settle first contract disputes.
The support of Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor are essential for the bill's passage.