Card Check: Secretary Solis Eschews Comments on EFCA

By March 18, 2009Economy, Labor Unions

There’s a strange story in The Los Angeles Times about a pro-labor rally in Sacramento Monday, or alternatively, there’s a story in The Los Angeles Times about a strange pro-labor rally, “Labor Secretary Hilda Solis pumps up crowd at workers conference.” Excerpts:

Despite Monday night’s hoopla, Solis never mentioned the event’s big theme: the Employee Free Choice Act, a revision of federal labor laws that unions have long sought. Instead, she reminisced with the crowd about past fights and promised to be an advocate for workers and for their right to join labor unions.

The omission is baffling. Here’s how a union flack spun the the Secretary’s failure to mention the legislation:

Organizers and union representatives were thrilled at the homecoming and downplayed her silence on the bill.

“We weren’t disappointed with the speech at all,” said Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Federation of Labor. “Labor now has a seat at the table, which we have not had for at least eight years; some would say longer.”

Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, said Solis has to follow political protocol. She wouldn’t be expected to speak in favor of any legislation before the president does.

That argument almost made sense during Secretary Solis’ confirmation hearing (despite her cosponsoring the bill as a House member) but she’s Secretary now. And President Obama has clearly spoken in favor of the legislation, as in his video presentation played to the AFL-CIO’s executive council on March 3: “And as we confront this crisis and work to provide health care to every American, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, move toward a clean energy economy, and pass the Employee Free Choice Act, I want you to know that you will always have a seat at the table.”

The thing is, the Obama Administration has been very good about giving many, many people a seat at the table. His forums on health care and the economy were models of inclusiveness.

Not to put words in Smith’s mouth, but we can imagine a line of thought: “Oh, man. She didn’t even mention EFCA. The Obama Administration sure isn’t putting any effort into this fight. Seat at the table…seat at the table….That’s not enough. Should we retaliate? No, not yet. Let’s give them some more time before we start applying pressure. After all, he did sign those executive orders.

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