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UMWA President Cecil Roberts comments on U.S. House passage of Employee Free Choice Act

March 2, 2007

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
"Yesterday's passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) by the U.S. House of Representatives marks the first step toward returning basic human rights to American working families. For too long, employers have had a free hand to flout labor law in this country with little expectation of receiving anything more than a slap on the wrist from a complicit federal government.
"EFCA would change that, by giving employees the right to form a union at any workplace if a majority sign a card saying they want a union. Majority rule is the basis of democracy; why should it be any different for workers who want to have a voice on the job?
"For coal miners, EFCA will mean that and more. The grim numbers from America's coalfields don't lie: 42 of the 47 coal miners killed on the job in 2006 were working in non-union mines. Union mines are safer mines, plain and simple.
"With EFCA as the law of the land, the climate of fear and intimidation that exists today in non-union mines would be washed away. No longer would coal operators be able to fire union supporters almost at will. No longer would they be able to whisper threats of closing mines if a union is organized. No longer would miners concerned about safety in the mines be faced with a choice of keeping quiet and keeping their jobs, or speaking out and getting fired.
"It's critical that the U.S. Senate take up this legislation and pass it as soon as possible to keep the flame of workers' rights and human rights burning ever brighter in American workplaces, including our coal mines."

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