- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Labor leaders may have a friend in the White House, but they are turning to a fictional president to energize their push for a bill that would make it easier to organize unions.

Martin Sheen, who played president Josiah Bartlet on TV’s “The West Wing,” was on Capitol Hill Tuesday to help launch a new ad campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act.

“It’s a human rights issue,” Sheen said. “It’s just bottom line fair that workers should be paid for their labor fairly.”

Sheen was joined by fellow actors Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff, who starred on the show until it ended its run in 2006.

Sheen calls the measure “a human rights issue” and said the bill is not a lost cause, despite the recent lack of support from some key lawmakers. The Senate is expected to take up the bill later this spring or summer.

“These were great disappointments, but the fight hasn’t ended there,” he said.

California Rep. Buck McKeon of _ a GOP critic of the bill _ says the Hollywood endorsement is like asking doctors on the TV show “E.R.” for their thoughts on health care reform.

The bill would let employees form a union if a majority sign cards instead of having to hold a secret ballot election. Business groups have spent millions to fight the measure.

Whitford, a union member and board member of the pro-labor group American Rights at Work, said he was behind the effort to bring his co-stars to Washington.

The actors held a news conference with four union workers who will be featured on giant billboards explaining why the bill, known as card check, is important to them. They also met with several undisclosed lawmakers afterward.

“I call this process celebrity lubrication,” Whitford joked to reporters.

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