Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wow, Did We Just Lose EFCA? That Was Fast - In a Slow, Painful Way

*** Card check’s death? Did the legislative battle over the Employee Free Choice Act (a.k.a. “card check”) end before it truly began? GOP Sen. Arlen Specter’s decision yesterday to oppose the bill, even though he voted for cloture on the measure in ’07, dealt a blow to organized labor, denying them the 60 votes they need to end debate -- even if Al Franken ends up joining the Senate. We can tell you this: The White House appears to be happy (but very quietly so) to have this debate out of the way. No doubt they were for it. But it was always more of a Biden cause than a Barack cause. At this point in time, with everything else on their plate, sticking a finger in business’ eye wasn’t something the White House was looking forward to. Would Obama have signed it? Yes. But he doesn’t have to worry about it now, at least maybe not until 2011.
(from First Read)

I am really, really trying to avoid saying something about Arlen Specter's recurrent personal health struggles.

And I'm really glad to hear that those centrist Dems are off the hook for having to stand up for the labor movement.

Question: If this defeat is real and irrevocable, has it done more to dampen my (already flimsy) faith in the Dem/Labor alliance, or my faith in actually existing organized labor en general?

Question 2: Does anybody anywhere believe we can advance to a filibuster-proof majority by 2011?

('Better crawl back into the earthly comforts of my current undisclosed location, before I go ahead and join a Trot faction or the Air Force or some shit....)


lex dexter said...

Ah, but the Right ain't done yet.

from the Corner:

The EFCA-Lite Trap [Peter Kirsanow]

There was widespread euphoria in the business community after Senator Specter stated that he would not vote for cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act Act at this time. But as I noted yesterday, the celebrations may be premature.

Senator Specter signaled a receptiveness to possible amendments to the National Labor Relations Act ("Act") that purport to remedy what he perceives as defects in the current system. In fact, he's detailed several of the changes he'd like to see. These include, among other things, "quickie elections" that would be conducted between 10-21 days of the filing of a union election petition, a form of "equal access" that would give unions access to employees on employer premises, enhanced penalties for unfair labor practices, and expedited bargaining schedules imposed by the NLRB. He also appears open to "last best offer" arbitration of contract terms.

Furthermore, Senator Specter didn't rule out reconsidering EFCA if reforms to the Act aren't implemented or if the economy improves.

The timing of Senator Specter's remarks is interesting. When EFCA was reintroduced in both Houses two weeks ago, Senator Harkin repeatedly invoked "equal access," as if to signal a possible compromise based on that concept. Almost contemporaneously, Representative Sestak (D, Pa.) introduced an alternative bill that featured equal access. Last weekend, compromise proposals were floated that incorporated some of the elements Sen. Specter would be willing to consider, including equal access. And SEIU president Andy Stern (possibly the most influential EFCA supporter) is quoted in the current issue of Business Week as understanding that EFCA might need to be changed to secure passage.

It's doubtful this flurry of activity is mere coincidence. The EFCA campaign is about to proceed to another level. Employers should be prepared to address the implications of quickie elections, equal access, and limited-interest arbitration — the combination of which would amount to "EFCA Lite."

The elimination of secret-ballot elections was the big drag on EFCA's prospects for passage. Now that card check may be off the table, EFCA opponents have lost their most effective talking point. Consequently, wavering senators may now be more inclined to vote for the remaining provisions of EFCA, plus quickie-election/equal-access provisions that make union organization almost as easy as card check.

Senator Specter's announcement merely concludes Round Two.

dr said...

The funny thing (to me) is that SEIU's attempted takeover of UNITE-HERE has so inflamed my Andy Stern hatred that I'm coming around to the view that we would be better off without EFCA as long as Andy Stern is in power.

dr said...

Let me expand. I used to think that the strongest Stern-based anti-EFCA argument had to do with the fact that Stern would use EFCA to create a bunch of hollow unions. Since I think a hollow union is probably better than no union, and because EFCA would allow the formation of lots of non-hollow unions, I didn't find that argument entirely convincing. What's got me upset now is the idea that Stern will be able to use those hollow unions to build himself a stronger political base and become (even more so than he is now) the voice of labor, or worse. How much bigger does SEIU need to get before it can swallow any union it wants? Scary stuff.

Jason said...

what's scary is your profile picture, dr.