Tough Night for the Card Check Crowd

By May 19, 2010Labor Unions

Sen. Arlen Specter, as (R-PA) was an original cosponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act when Sen. Kennedy introduced the bill (S. 842) in 2005. He subsequently moved away from the bill, but then in this election cycle as Democrat re-associated himself with organized labor’s No. 1 priority. Who can forget the Senator’s comments at the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh last September, when he proclaimed:

We have pounded out an Employees Choice bill which will meet labor’s objectives. I believe before the year is out, and I will join my colleague Senator Casey in predicting, that there will be passage of an Employees Free Choice Act which will be totally satisfactory to labor.

Speaking at the AFL-CIO gathering, President Obama opened his comments with a salute to Specter for being willing to “fight for the working men and women,” which, given the context, we took to mean union members.

Despite the support of organized labor, Democratic voters said no thanks on Tuesday, nominating Rep. Joe Sestak over Specter for the Senate seat. Big Labor’s two priorities in Pennsylvania in 2010: Arlen Specter’s re-election and the Employee Free Choice Act. Hasn’t worked out, has it?

In Arkansas, the left-wing challenger and labor’s annointed candidate against Sen. Blanche Lincoln failed to unseat her in the Democratic primary. The unions were incensed at Lincoln for her criticisms of the Employee Free Choice Act, and they promised money and support to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter to mount a primary challenge. As The Washington Post reports, “In Arkansas, dissatisfied labor unions worked hard against Lincoln.” Excerpt:

SEIU, which has only 1,000 members in the state, spent more than $1.5 million, including a $1 million television buy, Youngdahl said. The national AFL-CIO spent $3 million or more on Halter’s behalf, spokesman Eddie Vale said.

All that money, all those organizers working the precincts, all that fervor for the Employee Free Choice Act, and the best labor could do was force a run-off election in June. And that’s thanks to D.C. Morrison, a third candidate who, running as a conservative businessman who opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, gained 13 percent of the vote. With Lincoln’s 44 percent of the vote, that’s a 57-percent anti-EFCA vote in the Democratic primary.

The Employee Free Choice Act and labor’s political efforts figured prominently in both races (more in Arkansas), so voters were informed about the issue. The result: The Employee Free Choice Act, rejected by the voters.

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