Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Congressman Charles Dent (R-PA 15th) Speaking against Employee Free Choice Act generates 250 protesters on cold February afternoon


Over 250 people participated in an informational picket a Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon “roundtable discussion” against the Employee Free Choice Act on Thursday, February 19, 2009. Labor union representatives asked to be included in the program to present the other side. They were refused. The event was held in the Ole Bethlehem Hotel on Main Street in Betlehem, Pennsylvania. The crowd on the sidewalk was around ten times larger than the Chamber group inside.

The Congressman slipped into the event by a side door. At several points, protestors chanted, “outsource Dent!.”

Protesters included 43 union organizations, The Controller of Northampton County Stephen Barron, Pennsylvania State Representative Joe Brennan, Allentown City Democratic Chair and former Congressional candidate “Sam” Bennett, Lehigh County Democratic Chair Rick Daugherty, Northampton County Democratic Chair Joe Long, Moravian College Democrats, Moravian Students for A Democratic Society, Bethlehem City Democratic Committee, Lehigh Valley Democratic Coalition and many other groups. The protest lasted nearly 3 hours. Hundreds of flyers giving details about the real truth concerning the Employee Free Choice Act were distributed.

Gregg Potter, President of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council was a key organizer. The Lehigh Valley Building Trades turned out in force.

Richard Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, joined Stephen Barron on Democratic Talk Radio earlier that morning during a program about the Employee Free Choice Act and the demonstration planned later that day. Democratic Talk Radio is a pro-labor radio show that broadcasts on Thursday mornings from WGPA SUNNY 1100AM in Bethlehem. Democratic Talk Radio endorsed the protest and participated in the picketing.

The Morning Call newspaper ran front page stories on the protest the morning of the event and the day after. Local television (Channel 69) covered the event. The picketing generated many other favorable news stories and helped educate voters in Pennsylvania concerning the details and importance of the Employee Free Choice Act.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a note from Gregg Potter, President of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council on the event.

Good afternoon,

Attached is a piece from the Allentown Morning Call that appeared on today’s front page. There is also an accompanying video that gives perspectives from Congressman Dent and Labor. I want to personally thank the 43 locals and over 250 members who came out to protest the actions of Congressman Dent.

I am listing the locals who attended, and if I omit you, I apologize. It was a rather hectic day.

I want to publicly thank Bill Newhard and the Lehigh, Northampton, Pike & Monroe County Building Trades Council for their incredible participation. You all made this happen! Keep up the great work!!

AFSCME 1435, Northeast Pa. Area Labor Federation, UAW 677 Retired, Catholic School Teachers Union, CWA 13500, 13000, District 13, PSEA, UFCW 1776, USW 2599, 547, SOAR, 10-86, 807, Roofers 30, SEIU 32BJ, 1199, SEIU/PSSU 668, Airline Pilots Assoc.

Road Sprinklers 669, Insulators 23, IBEW 1600, 375, 607, 143, 1319, 229

Carpenters 600, Bricklayers 5, 30, Sheetmetal Workers 19, UNITE HERE, OPIU 277, National Writers Union, Plumbers 690, IUPAT 703 and 1269, IUPAT District Council 21

Glaziers 252, Bethlehem Firefighters, APWU National and 268, Lehigh Valley Labor Council, also, special thanks go to Rep. Joseph Brennan, Northampton County Controller, Stephen Barron, the Moravian College Democrats, Lehigh County Democratic Chair, Rick Daugherty, Northampton County Democratic Chair, Joe Long, Nancy Tate, of the LEPOCO Peace Center, LVDC and also Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan for stopping by during the Chamber event.

Labor was fortunate enough to gain front page space two days in a row in the Morning Call, and there is a follow up article scheduled for this Sunday.

Thanks again for all those who participated!! You all made me very proud to be union!!

In unity & solidarity,

Gregg Potter

President, Lehigh Valley Labor Council

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