Card Check: If Only It Were a Real ‘Rethink’

By December 29, 2008Labor Unions

The Washington Times today reports on what it sees as waning support for quick Congressional action on the Employee Free Choice Act, the anti-democratic legislation that would dragoon employees into unions against their will.

The thesis is that the political and economic scenes are such that Congress will be reluctant to move on the bill, organized labor’s top priority. From “Labor’s ‘priority’ on back burner“:

“I suspect that there’s been a bit of a rethink going on,” said Seth Borden, a labor-law attorney representing management groups at Kirkpatrick Stockton. “A lot of the enthusiasm – and fear, on our side – has tempered off a bit.”

Both sides say the sharply deteriorating economy, coupled with such big-ticket items as health care reform and energy policy, will command the attention and resources of both the new administration and key congressional committees. With business lobbies and conservative Republicans geared up to fight EFCA, the Obama administration is seen as not wanting a distraction in his critical first days in office.

“We’re hearing [EFCA] probably won’t happen right away, and we feel good about that,” said Leigh Strope, spokeswoman for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union. “It maybe will not happen in the first 100 days, but we don’t take that as a bad signal.”

That’s just spin from Strope, putting the failure of labor to make its priorities Congress’ priorities. But at least Strope acknowledges the possibility, which is more than other labor leaders do.

Although our ally in the cause Seth Borden is an effective advocate against the Employee Free Choice Act — here’s Kilpatrick-Stockton’s EFCAUpdates blog he co-writes — we disagree with the sentiment in the quote. Many of our NAM members, the smaller companies especially, are just as alarmed as ever at the possibility of action at any time on the Employee Free Choice Act. OK, so Congress won’t pass a law to ruin your business and the economy by March. It may take until June. That doesn’t ease our fears any.

And if there’s a “rethink” by labor, it’s just a political and strategic one. Labor leadership seems as committed as ever to eventually passing the legislation to increase their membership and dues. They’re just figuring out how (and it may come in the form of a new bill all together).

UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): Here’s the New York Times’ take, “Unions Look for New Life in World of Obama“:

Unions are looking to Barack Obama and rising economic anxiety to reverse organized labor’s long slide.

Through three decades of decline, union leaders have been predicting a renaissance that has not come. But labor invested more than $300 million to help elect Mr. Obama and enlarge the Democratic majority in Congress, and it expects both to enact legislation that will make it easier for millions of workers to unionize.

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