Labor plans biggest 'card check' rally in Wal-Mart's backyard

The AFL-CIO is planning one of the largest state rallies in favor of "card check" legislation on Saturday in the home state of one of organized labor's frequent targets: Wal-Mart,

The union is expecting 1,000 attendees at a rally in Little Rock, Ark. on Saturday, in what the AFL-CIO says is one of the biggest non-D.C. events to date in support of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

Several of the union's national leaders will travel to the rally, which is followed by a catfish fry, and located some 214 miles from Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasure Rich Trumka and Vice President Arlene Holt Baker are expected to speak, along with United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard.

One union official said the rally will have "huge activity" by state standards, while some Washington-centric rallies have had more attendance.

Wal-Mart has long been a target of unions due to its labor practices. You can view the AFL-CIO's "Paying the Price at Wal-Mart" website here.

Update, 2:37 p.m.: Some anti-EFCA groups sent along preemptive comments.

"Since 2005, Little Rock has announced over $1 billion of capital investment from new and expanding companies. These companies, both domestic and international, have created thousands of quality jobs in our region. We strongly believe that Arkansas' status as a 'Right to Work' state gives us an edge with potential new and existing employers when compared to other states in the United States. Yet, these companies also know that a strong, stable and qualified workforce is vital to their success. By taking away an employees' right to choose and also allowing the government to force non-competitive contracts on businesses and employees, this legislation would wreak havoc on many companies ability to survive, much less thrive. All we have to do is look at states with high concentrations of union activity to see the unfortunate results and job loss. Without a strong and competitive business environment, we'll lose thousands of good paying jobs. Arkansas families can't afford that kind of choice." -- Jay Chesshir, President and CEO, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce


"The Employee Free Choice Act is a poorly written piece of legislation that would unfairly saddle Arkansas businesses with burdensome added costs. It would deprive workers of the fundamental right to a secret ballot in organizing elections. The current system, run by the National Labor Relations Board, works and needs no radical change, as this bill would impose. " - Randy Zook, President, Arkansas State Chamber/Associated Industries of Arkansas


"As an African American I am deeply offended that an organization known for a complete lack of diversity, which has never had a minority at its helm, would come lead a 'civil rights' march from Central High School, which is the holy grail of the civil rights movement in Arkansas.

"Today in 2009 African American members of the AFL-CIO are still fighting for diversity in its leadership. There are only five African Americans out of forty members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council. The organization's own research has proven that African Americans are still 'haunted by negative stereotypes and racism' within its ranks. It seems to me that civil rights leaders should be marching on the doors of the AFL-CIO.

"If government used the same leadership development and promotion paradigm as the AFL-CIO then Barack Obama would never have been elected President. This event is truly the apex of hypocrisy." -- Sylvester Smith, Arkansas State Director, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)