Activists Doubt Democratic Support for Card Check

By July 14, 2007Labor Unions

Jonathan Tasini is a New York activist and writer (bio here) who’s worked in many capacities for organized labor (who challenged Hillary Clinton in the 2006 Democratic Senate primary). He’s a conscientious sort, and we pay attention to what he says as a representative of the non-crazy, hard-working left. And Tasini continues to doubt congressional leadership’s allegiance to the Employee Free Choice Act, organized labor’s No. 1 legislative priority.

A recent Tasini column notes that leaders dropped any demands that airport screeners be allowed to unionize, a provision first included in a homeland security bill.

So, simply because of a threat to tank the “anti-terrorism” bill, the Democrats stripped out the union rights for airport screeners. My thoughts on this are two-fold. First, it means that the Democratic leadership still does not have to internal backbone to say the workplace rights of our people here is really a true national security issue–if you can’t make a decent living and have dignity at work, what kind of domestic society are we building?

Second, if the Democratic Party does not view EFCA as a priority, why do we think that the party leadership will not cave down the road when EFCA comes up again? Even imagine a scenario where a Democrat sits in the White House — why are we so certain that the party will make this a make-or-break fight and promise to shut down the Senate (which is where the logjam exists for the legislation), if the Republican minority (and it only takes 41 of them) digs in its heels? Count me as skeptical.

Just interesting. After the dishonestly named Employee Free Choice Act was blocked in the Senate, Big Labor made a huge point about the campaign for the bill being a multiyear project. Maybe so, and a lot of obstensibly supportive politicians will say the same thing, making sure the card-check legislation is always just a little bit out of reach, requiring just one more campaign contribution to get it done. It’s a good fundraiser for organized labor, so keep it going….

UPDATE (3 p.m.): The Trotskyites agree, kind of.

Democrats—including the presidential candidates, seven of whom supported the bill—present themselves as “friends of labor,” but they all want contributions from business. Remember that Democrats passed the anti-labor NAFTA trade act during the Bill Clinton administration. They only passed a modest increase in the minimum wage this year by tying it to the reactionary bill funding the occupation of Iraq.

It’s apparent that to pass “card-check” rules, organized labor will need more than “friends” in Congress; it will need a popular mobilization.

Boy, this dialectical stuff makes your head hurt.

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