Mar 13, 2009

Centrist Democrats may sink labor bill

The EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act) is a controversial bill cosponsored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield and Sen. Kent Conrad, both Democrats, to make it easier for organized labor to unionize businesses.

The bill was drawn up in the last Congress as a “thank you” to labor unions for their help in electing Democrats.

That was the last Congress. What about this year?

“I’m still sorting things out,” says Butterfield.

“I’ve got my hands full,” says Conrad.

The two men are hardly alone.

Caught between Big Business and Big Labor in the midst of a deepening recession, moderate Democrats are washing their cars, polishing their silver, rearranging the pictures on their desks — anything they can do to buy some time while hoping that EFCA somehow goes away.

Former supporters of the bill are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who thinks he can get the 60 votes needed, didn’t promise to take the bill up promptly.

In the meantime, Big Business and Big Labor will be taking shots at each other over the airwaves and on Capitol Hill - and moderate Democrats will be trying to stay out of the line of fire.

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What is the so-called Employee Free Choice Act?

First of all, the name is purposely deceptive. “Card Check” would be a better name for the bill. If it passed, union organizers could come in and have employees sign a card indicating whether they want to be represented by a union.

Problem is, instead of a “secret ballot” vote, the card check could be done right in front of the union organizers who could intimidate employees to vote against their will.

Bill Samuel, the director of government affairs for the AFL-CIO claims that “The business community has been extremely aggressive in running ads back home to spread misinformation about the bill.”

Actually, it is the ads sponsored by organized labor that contain misinformation about the bill.

Even former Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern (pictured) is speaking out against this bill.

McGovern, a staunch union supporter in the past, is highly critical of this bill and his personal comments are included in many of the TV ads against the Employee Free Choice Act.