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September 18, 2014
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Labor Welcomes You at Labor Day Weekend Activities!

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Real Freedom at Work Comes from Forming a Union

By Al Ekblad

All workers have the right to choose to stick together and collectively bargain with their employer for a better life. Even employees’ who have never exercised that right still have it. The key element is the right is there when you need it.

There aren’t always good jobs available. When workers join together they gain a collective voice, the balance of power shifts to an equal footing and the road to making a bad job good takes shape.  

In almost every developed country in the world employees receive more equitable pay, more vacation and better protections than in the US. In almost every developed country they have larger unions.

Working families should know they have an enemy.  It is a network of out of state, corporate-run groups - funded by dark money - that aims to get lawmakers to enter into blood pacts to pass corporate laws that harm families. Among them are bills like ‘right-to-work’ and ‘employee’s choice’.  They are deceitful names, intended to make you favor them, but they’re all the same law intended to fool and divide us.  

An accurate name is No Rights at Work (NR@W).  That’s what it really is; an attempt to stack the deck further in favor of corporate profits. In states that have these laws, workers make an average of $5,000 less per year.  

NR@W says no worker has to pay a single penny to the union ever, regardless of how many union services they use. It forces unions into an unfunded legal mandate, ensures weak representation and eventual collapse. Unions drive wages up. By destroying unions, NR@W causes wages to plummet. It led to the gutting of pension systems too where workers contributed but ended up with no security.

It bans the most common form of collective bargaining in Montana.  NR@W is a corporate power grab that makes it easier to ship jobs overseas, avoid paying taxes, turn fulltime jobs into part-time, and prevent employees from any say in schedules or safety.

NR@W is bad for communities. It affects public safety by silencing fire fighters who negotiate for better equipment, training, and shift scheduling to adequately respond to emergencies.  It silences the voice of nurses who work for quality care and adequate nurse-to-patient ratios. It prevents teachers and law enforcement officers from using their expertise to negotiate for measures that keep our children in school, safe online and in the community.

In 2011, NR@W was introduced in Montana as ‘worker’s freedom’.  Employees know real freedom at work is about being able to balance life and work, attend a parent-teacher conference, take a loved one to the doctor, and have time for what matters without feeling like you’ll lose your job.

Unions are the builders of the middle class…the creators of the weekend, paid leave, safety standards, healthcare, pensions, etc. Good jobs are a Montana value. Low wages for higher corporate profits is not. No Rights at Work is unfair, unsafe, and unnecessary. 

This Labor Day, the Montana AFL-CIO recommits itself to bringing greater fairness and prosperity to every family through improving the availability of quality jobs, the expansion of true workplace rights and freedom, research and education on issues that matter, and support for programs and initiatives that lift people up and give them a path to a better life.

Al Ekblad is the executive secretary of the Montana State AFL-CIO. On Labor Day every year Montana unions feed more than 9,000 people at events that are free and open to the public. Find the event nearest to you by visiting or go to the Montana State AFL-CIO on Facebook or Twitter

MT AFL-CIO Speaks Out on Marriage Equality and Workplace Discrimination

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sandi Luckey, Communications Director (406) 202-3165

Statement on Rolando v State

May 22, 2014

The Montana State AFL-CIO released the following statement from Executive Secretary Al Ekblad in response to the legal action filed yesterday in Federal Court challenging Montana’s prohibition against marriage equality:

“Today in Montana, couples who share lives and homes and children, are being denied spousal benefits. In places where the employer offers family health coverage and/or pension and death benefits, marriage defines the spouse as family.  In the absence of marriage, spouses cannot extend benefit coverage to one another. Denying couples the right to marry is an economic issue. If an employee is offered family coverage as part of their employment package but they are prevented from using that coverage, the value of their employment package is reduced and the value of their work. When an employee’s compensation is impacted by matters exterior to qualifications and quality of work, it is workplace discrimination. 

Families come in all shapes and sizes. I didn’t want my parents dictating who I could marry when I was just starting out. I sure wouldn’t want the government to try to do it and I would be very upset if I was unable to cover my wife on my health plan because of someone else’s idea of whether she should be or not. If it’s love and there is a life-long commitment, then people should be free to marry and gain all the rightful benefits related to being married. ”  


Full press release here:

Download: Ekblad on Rolando v State Marriage Equality May 2014.doc
MT AFL-CIO: US Senator John Walsh is "Trailblazer"
For Immediate Release Contact: Sandi Luckey, Communications Director (406) 202-3165 MT AFL-CIO Response to Walsh Effort to End Gridlock Preventing Middle Class Job Creation in Pipeline Construction Walsh Press Release: Read More...
Download: MT AFL-CIO Response to Walsh to End Gridlock and Authorize Pipeline May 9 14.doc
Montana Named One of Top 5 Most Dangerous States to Work
New Report Here: Helena – According to a new report released by the AFL-CIO, Montana had the fourth worst workplace safety record of all states in 2012. This analysis, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that 34 Montanans lost their lives due to on-the-job injuries. Read More...
Download: MT Named One of Top 5 Most Dangerous States to Work.doc
Montana CEOs Paid 61 Times Average Worker, 135 Times Minimum Wage Worker
2014 Executive PayWatch exposes high paid CEOs in the low wage economy Helena, MT, April 15, 2014 – According to the AFL-CIO’s 2014 Executive PayWatch website, the average CEO of a company based in Montana made $2.2 million, 61 times more than the $36,294 earned by the average Montana worker. Read More...
Controversy and Warning: Gianforte and True Higher Ed Leadership
Greg Gianforte and True Higher Education Leadership By Eric Feaver, president of MEA-MFT Apparently this year Greg Gianforte has a corner on the higher education speaker circuit. Read More...

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