BOULDER, Colo. –

Unions brought us the weekend and the 40-hour work week.

They brought us benefits, pensions, safer working conditions and an end to child labor.

These were not easy struggles. People were killed, beaten, jailed and fired.

Over the last 30 years, the rights of workers to form unions have been severely eroded and union membership has dropped precipitously. According to a report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, “Existing laws make forming a union a Herculean task that few want to undertake.”

Union members are better off than non-union people. According to the AFL-CIO: “Union members are 52 percent more likely to have job-provided health care, nearly three times more likely to have guaranteed pensions and earn 28 percent more than nonunion workers”

The Employee Free Choice Act would enable working people to bargain for better benefits, wages and working conditions by restoring workers’ freedom to choose for themselves whether to join a union.

It would strengthen penalties for companies that coerce or intimidate employees trying to form unions or bargain; enable employees to from unions when a majority signs authorization cards; and establish mediation and binding arbitration when the employer and employees cannot agree on a first contract.

Big Business is spending $200 million to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act. Unions are asking for our help in getting the act passed.

There are enough votes in the House of Representatives to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. However, in the Senate, only 40 votes are guaranteed.

Neither of our two senators (Mark Udall and Michael Bennet) has committed to supporting the measure.

Here are some things you can do to ensure passage:

Writea handwritten letter to Udall and Bennet asking them to co-sponsor and vote for the Employee Free Choice Act. Fax it to Bennet at 202-228-5036 and to Udall at 202-226-7840

CallUdall and Bennet. The Congressional switchboard is 1-800-828-0498.

Endorsethe bill as a religious leader, organization or small business.

Volunteerfor the campaign and ask others to take the actions above.

Our lives, our health, our children and our rights are at stake. It’s up to all of us.

For more information, please contact me at 303-444-6981 ext. 2.

Carolyn Bninski is on the staff of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.