Card Check: AFL-CIO’s Trumka Says Employee Free Choice Act Will Come Up

By August 8, 2010Economy, Labor Unions

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, was on the CSPAN “Newsmakers” show this morning. Asked whether the Employee Free Choice Act will be considered in Congress this year, Trumka said: “I think you’ll see the Employee Free Choice Act come up again. I think you’ll see it probably before the end of the year.”

Before the elections or in a lameduck session? Trumka: “Either one.”

The reason the Employee Free Choice Act has not passed Congress is because 40 Senate Republicans have blocked it, he said.

Oh, pshaw, Trumka. The reason EFCA has not passed is because the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to what the bill would do, opponents have made an effective case that “card check” and forced unionization are antithetical to democratic principles and economic growth. The legislation is extraordinarily unpopular, which is why key Senate Democrats joined Republicans in preventing the bill’s consideration on the floor this Congress.

If it were popular, the President would have already signed the Employee Free Choice Act into law instead of planning to put its provisions into effect through Executive Orders, presidential nominations, and regulatory enactments. (See Shopfloor post, “If EFCA Won’t Pass the Senate, We’ll Turn to Federal Labor Boards.

Trumka also continued pounding the table for more federal stimulus spending, dismissing concerns about the federal deficit, saying we have a jobs crisis in this country, not a deficit crisis. (UPDATE, 10:58 a.m.: Here’s the exact quote: “We have a job crisis right now, we don’t have a debt crisis right now. The only thing that can possibly make this recession, and this recovery from not stalling and going back into recession is if government continues to do some stimulus spending. And unfortunately, the states aren’t in a position to do that, so it’s going to take aid from the federal government.”)

CSPAN Radio will re-run the interview, about 30 minutes worth, at 6 p.m. Eastern.

UPDATE (11:20 a.m.): An interviewer asks, well, if the Employee Free Choice is so popular, and Democrats control the House and Senate, why haven’t the Democrats brought it to the floor for a vote? Trumka:

The President supports it, the vice president supports it, a vast majority of the House support it, a vast majority of the Senate report [sic] it, and like a hundred and some other bills in this country, 40 Republicans said we’re saying no to everything, and so they’ve stopped it.

It has come to the House and the Senate, remember? It passed by a large majority in the House. It’s been in the Senate where 40 Republicans have said no, just like they’ve said no to extensions of unemployment benefits, to help for state and local government, they’ve said no to everything. It doesn’t surprise us they’ve said no.

UPDATE (11:50 a.m.): Let’s be more accurate about the recent legislative history of the Employee Free Choice Act. In the 110th Congress, 2007-2008, H.R. 800 was introduced on Feb. 5, 2007. It passed the House on March 1, 2007. In the U.S. Senate, the bill failed to achieve cloture on June 26, 2007, with a vote of 51-48, short of the 60 votes needed. The only Republican to vote for cloture was Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylania, who subsequently became a Democrat (and who lost his party primary this spring). Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) was absent.

In the current 111th Congress, H.R. 1409 was introduced in the House on April 29, 2009, referred to committee, with no subsequent action. In the Senate, S. 560 was introduced on March 10, 2009 and referred to committee, with no subsequent action. From July (Sen. Franken’s swearing in) to December 2010 (Sen. Scott Brown’s arrival) the Democrats enjoyed a 60-vote majority in the Senate — enough to invoke cloture — but leadership chose not to pursue a vote because several members of the caucus would have voted no.

The portion of the interview concerning the Employee Free Choice Act is here as an .mp3 file. The host is Bill Scanlan and the interlocutors are David Catanese of and Victoria McGrane of Dow-Jones.

Edited and updated for clarity, style.

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