Monday, March 12, 2012

AFSC Statement On SB469

The American Friends Service Committee expresses deep concerns over Senate Bill 469, which passed the Georgia State Senate on March 7.

If approved by the Georgia House and signed by the Governor, SB 469 would criminalize acts of peaceful protest, including picketing, outside of any privately owned buildings related to labor disputes. Individuals who participate in such protests could be fined up to $1000 a day, and organizations, which support such actions, could face penalties of up to $10,000 a day.

Moreover, the bill adds a category of “conspiracy to commit criminal trespass,” which would make it a high and aggravated misdemeanor to plan acts of peaceful civil disobedience.

The bill also includes provisions that weaken the power of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with their employers by restricting the ability of workers to negotiate contracts with employers that provide for union dues and agency fees.

At a time when peaceful protest against poverty and inequality is surely appropriate, the criminalization of otherwise protected activities represents an assault on the nation’s ideals. As Atlanta native, Martin Luther King, Jr. said on the night before he was killed, “the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.”

As a Quaker organization with a long record of upholding civil liberties and putting the principles of peaceful protest into practice, and as an organization that has long stood for the rights of workers to bargain collectively with their employers, the American Friends Service Committee calls for this bill to be rejected.

We encourage folks to call Georgia law makers in regards to this bill and share your concerns with them.

Rep Larry O’Neil: 404-656-5052

Rep David Ralston- 706-632-2221

In addition we urge all to join workers, people of faith, and social justice advocates Saturday March 17th for a mass rally against SB 469 at 11am at the state capitol.

Copy of the bill

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