Card Check: The Bill Is Still There, the Threat Still Real

By March 25, 2009Labor Unions

Lots of coverage about Senator Arlen Specter’s announcement Tuesday that he will oppose a cloture vote on the Employee Free Choice Act (S. 560), but nothing much new of substance beyond what we posted on yesterday afternoon.

Ben Smith at Politico passes on scuttlebuttlespeculation from NBC’s “First Read“:

 *** 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.

Probably right. The White House never expended much effort or rhetoric on behalf of the dishonestly named Employee Free Choice Act; consider just the passing references the President and VP Biden made to the legislation when addressing the AFL-CIO fatcats in Miami.

But this “death” and “big blow” rhetoric is disturbing and wrong. The Employee Free Choice Act is not going away. Organized labor will not give up their hunt for the Holy Grail of Intimidation until the political landscape completely turns against them, and that seems unlikely to occur anytime soon.

Take a look at the piece by Sam Stein, the Huffington Post’s political reporter, “Specter Stuns Dems And Labor, But EFCA Fight Not Over. Excerpt:

Angered but not deflated, these [union] officials insisted that the EFCA debate was in no ways dead. Majority Leader Harry Reid struck the first note, telling reporters Specter “is not the only Republican who has indicated a willingness to see something done … He’s not the only suspect.”

A Senate Democratic aide deeply involved in passing the legislation was slightly less defiant but similarly hopeful. “Look at it this way,” said the aide. “It is not a complete set back. We are still going to move forward and we are open to compromise … and bringing folks to the table.”

Well, if the legislation involves card check, binding arbitration and exorbitant, politically motivated employer fines, there’s no room for compromise. At all.

In its brief editorial today, the Wall Street Journal identifies the same political dynamic at work and reaches a conclusion business will certainly share. From “The Power of 41“:

Big Labor spent a fortune electing Democrats to pass card check. If the main bill falters, it will tempt Senators and the business community with equally destructive “compromise” legislation. The anti-card-check forces should instead take heart that their pressure helped gain Mr. Specter’s support, and keep working to kill this idea.

You can be sure we will.

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