Blog of Rights

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

By Dorothy M. Ehrlich, ACLU at 3:31pm

Chanting, "This is what democracy looks like," tens of thousands of demonstrators have filled the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, to insist that the right of unions to organize and collectively bargain be protected.

These demonstrations have now spread to Indiana and Ohio as well as other states where activists are effectively using the First Amendment as a powerful tool to ensure that the right to freely associate — to form a union and to bargain collectively — is defended against these concerted anti-labor attacks.

The ACLU has championed the fundamental rights of unions to organize — to associational freedom and freedom of speech — since its inception more than 90 years ago, beginning with efforts to counter the vehement anti-union crusades of the 1920s. The ACLU of Wisconsin has now added its voice to this claim, speaking out in support of workers' First Amendment freedoms to organize and providing legal observers to ensure that the rights of demonstrators are protected.

Laws that inhibit workers' First Amendment rights have no place in our democracy. Indeed, our democracy is reinvigorated by people across the nation exercising their own First Amendment rights to protect this crucial principle.

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