Card Check: Senator Specter, Cloture and Clarity

By August 14, 2009General, Labor Unions

Netroots Nation, the Pittsburgh conference of peevishly progressive (and effective) online activists, heard this morning from Pennsylvania’s two candidates for the state’s Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate: Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak. A questioner asked Senator Specter about his position on three major pieces of legislation pending in the Senate — health care, cap and trade, and the Employee Free Choice Act. The Senator has previously said we would not vote for cloture on EFCA, but today he seems to have a different position. The exchange:

Ari Melber: “…we’ll go to the third question. In stitching these together is it fair to say that on the climate change legislation, on employee free choice, on a public option health care plan, those will all be areas where you’ll be with the majority for cloture to have these up or down votes?”

Sen. Specter: “Yes, no doubt about those three issues at all.”

To see the video of his remarks, click here. The Hill has an account of the remarks here.

EFCA is a moving target these days, and it’s unclear what theoretical legislation Senator Specter was referring to. He has expressed support for a “modified version,” perhaps a “compromise” he works out with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

But the Employee Free Choice Act is fundamentally flawed, designed to force to employees into unions against their individual self-interest and to damage any businesses that resist unionization. There is no compromise that can flow from any version of the Employee Free Choice Act. A vote for cloture by Senator Specter would do a great disservice to his constituents and the nation’s economic vitality.

UPDATE (2:37): Good insight from Greg Sargent at The Plumline, his Washington Post blog, “Specter To Netroots Nation: I’m Voting For EFCA. Specter To National Press: I’m Voting Against Card Check.” The unions are indeed blogshouting their supposed victory today, but as Sargent notes, “It’s understandable that EFCA backers are psyched by Specter’s declaration today. But it seems worth keeping in mind that Specter has been known to, shall we say, tailor his message to his audience.”

UPDATE (Monday, 10:55 a.m.): More from The Truth About EFCA.

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