Friday, March 25, 2011

Collective Bargaining & Civil Liberties

The ACLU has championed the right of workers to organize unions since its inception more than 90 years ago, beginning with efforts to counter the vehement anti-union crusades of the 1920s.
The ACLU continues to support the rights of employees, both public and private, to organize unions and bargain collectively. Collective bargaining statutes provide critical and necessary protection for workers who exercise basic civil rights, in particular, the rights of speech, association, and petition. Efforts to strip workers of these protections have no place in our democracy.

What is the right to collective bargaining?
The right to collective bargaining is the right of individual employees in a workplace to come together and to choose a representative, based on a majority vote, who will then negotiate with their employer over terms and conditions of employment. Because the individual worker typically lacks meaningful bargaining power to negotiate favorable employment terms, designating a representative to negotiate on behalf of a large group of workers can level the playing field between labor and management and give workers a meaningful seat at the bargaining table.

Why are the rights to form a union and engage in collective bargaining civil liberties?
Collective action is often necessary to protect individual rights. Unions by their nature facilitate and enhance the exercise of core civil liberties, such as the right of association, speech, and petition.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Islamophobia: Myths vs. Facts

Now that the 2011 Legislature is over, our blog will shift gears and focus on civil liberties issues happening both locally and nationally. Readers - stay tuned for an online report that we will publish in the next few days that summarizes all the bills we monitored and lobbied this past session.

With so much about Islam in the current news cycle, from the supposed “radicalization” to state laws banning Sharia Law from U.S. Courts, it is important that we educate ourselves with facts, and not buy into myths or shape our opinions based on rhetoric alone. While these measures generally coincide with rising xenophobia and concerns about the influence of foreign and international law in the United States, they also correspond with the growing anti-Muslim sentiment across the country.

Click here to read a Q&A on the myth of radicalization

Earlier this month, Representative Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, held a hearing about the so-called radicalization of Islam in America. This misguiding hearing, which smacks of a McCarthy-era witch hunt, is only the most recent manifestation of discriminatory attitudes and policies towards Muslims in America. That is why the ACLU, along with over 40 other human rights and civil rights groups, sent a letter to Rep. King and his committee urging them not to conflate 1st Amendment-protected practices with involvement in terrorism.

Download a copy of the ACLU’s written statement to the House Committee on Homeland Security

More and more we are reading about state legislatures attempting to ban Sharia Law from being upheld in U.S. Courts. This notion was seen first in Oklahoma and immediately blocked by a Federal Court as unconstitutional, and is nothing more than a scare-tactic based on the perception of the influence of foreign and religious laws on our courts, rather than facts. To be sure, the 1st Amendment already prohibits U.S. courts from adopting any kind of religious law. That includes: Kosher Law, Canon Law and yes, Sharia Law.

Unfortunately, Wyoming is not immune from these types of Islamophobic measures as we observed during this past session. Representative Gay from Wyoming House District 36 introduced HJ08, which attempted to ban both Sharia and International Laws from Wyoming’s Courts. Bills like this are nothing more than a solution looking for a problem. Moreover, the framers of the Constitution intended respect for international laws and commitments, such as U.S. treaties. In order to be the global leader on human rights, we must uphold our commitment to international laws and standards. This not only includes honoring international laws, but refusing to enshrine discrimination and intolerance in U.S. law.

Last month in Orange County, California, protestors organized outside of a charity event sponsored by a local Muslim group. The charity event was to raise money for women’s shelters, and to relieve homelessness and hunger in the U.S. Please watch this video prepared by the Council on American-Islamic-Relations (CAIR-California) to get a taste of the anti-Islamic rhetoric growing in America.

Want to get involved? Click here to find out how you can support the ACLU.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rachel Maddow Covers HB74

'The Equality State' lives up to its name

Rachel Maddow plays audio from actual small government, pro-freedom conservatives in the Wyoming legislature arguing against an anti-gay marriage bill on the grounds that it's not government's business and not in keeping with Wyoming's principle of equality.

Click here to watch

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Blog of Rights: Women's Health Care

To read entire blog post by Suzanne Ito of the National ACLU, click here

Government "Should Not Be Meddling" With Women's Health Care Decisions

Last week, legislation that would place onerous new restrictions on women's access to abortion in Wyoming failed in the state senate. Two Republican representatives, Lisa Shepperson and Sue Wallis, who both opposed the measure in the House, said from the chamber floor:

Shepperson: When I go to the doctor, it is the most private thing you can imagine. I want myself, I want my husband, and I want my doctor there. And I don't want any government.

Wallis: What this bill does is say that, as a woman, that I'm not smart enough to know the decision that I'm making, that somehow the state is required in this particular decision where they are required in no other medical decision.


Maddow interviews Wallis and Shepperson

The Rachel Maddow Show continues to cover small-government conservatives in the Wyoming Legislture. Click here to watch Republican Wyoming State Representatives Sue Wallis and Lisa Shepperson talk with Rachel Maddow about why their small government beliefs mean they want government and abortion laws out of the relationship between a woman and her doctor.

HB74 Defeated!!!

HB74 – Validity of Marriages, a measure banning recognition of out-of-state gay marriages was voted down by the Senate yesterday afternoon by a narrow 14–16 vote. Earlier in the day, the bill barely passed the Wyoming House by a vote of 31–28. The Wyoming ACLU is extremely delighted that HB74 did not pass! Thank you to everyone involved with helping defeat this bill. A special thanks goes to all legislators that voted against this measure, we truly appreciate your vote!!!


Senator Burns
Senator Case
Senator Christensen
Senator Coe
Senator Driskill
Senator Emerich
Senator Esquibel
Senator Hastert
Senator Hines
Senator Landen
Senator Martin
Senator Nicholas
Senator Rothfuss
Senator Schiffer
Senator Scott
Senator Von Flatern


Representative Barbuto
Representative Berger
Representative Blake
Representative Bonner
Representative Brown
Representative Byrd
Representative Childers
Representative Connolly
Representative Craft
Representative Esquibel
Representative Freeman
Representative Gingery
Representative Goggles
Representative Greene
Representative Illoway
Representative Kasperik
Representative McOmie
Representative Moniz
Representative Nicholas
Representative Patton
Representative Petroff
Representative Roscoe
Representative Steward
Representative Throne
Representative Vranish
Representative Wallis
Representative Dan Zwonitzer
Representative David Zwonitzer