Conservatives Declare Victory on Union Bill After Specter Switch

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 6:11 pm
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) (WDCpix)

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) (WDCpix)

While a small group of conservative activists and journalists sat down for lunch at the University Club in downtown Washington, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform got a phone call from Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-Penn.) chief of staff, Scott Hoeflich. Specter—the moderate Republican who had once co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for labor unions to organize—had changed his mind. Norquist led off his short speech with the news.

Image by: Matt Mahurin

Image by: Matt Mahurin

“He will be announcing today,” Norquist said, “this afternoon, that he will be voting against cloture and against card check.”

The room erupted with applause. James Sherk, who had been working against EFCA at the conservative Heritage Foundation, pumped his fist. With a maximum of 59 Democrats in support of the bill—assuming Al Franken is seated in Minnesota and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) is well enough to cast a vote—EFCA needed one Republican. Specter was the only Republican senator to support a similar measure in 2007.

“We may have dodged a bullet here,” said Norquist. “If this was 55 [Democrats], maybe the business community would never have woken up before the next election. But cleverly, we brought the Democrats so close that they thought they had us by the neck.”

The Employee Free Choice Act has been the target of one of the most intense lobbying campaigns in recent political history, an effort that has moved from the airwaves of battleground states into meetings where small labor and business groups pleaded for the swing voter, Specter, to take their side. On Tuesday, anti-EFCA activists all but declared victory, pronouncing the current bill “dead’ in the Senate. While some worries remain over Specter’s statement against the bill, and some disagreements are heating up over the strategy to block more labor reforms, there is a sense that the campaign against EFCA has made passage of the current version of the bill impossible.

“Ding, dong, the bill is dead,” said Matthew Vadum, a senior editor of the Capital Research Center, the conservative think tank that organized the conference. During a break, Vadum rushed to post the news at CRC’s web site: “Specter Kills Card Check.”

Specter’s EFCA switch will have an immediate impact on his re-election prospects. Ever since Specter co-sponsored EFCA in 2007, conservatives have threatened challenging him in the June 2010 Republican primary. Victory in that primary had looked more distant since more than 100,000 Republicans, most of them longtime supporters of Specter from the suburbs of Philadelphia, quit the party in the run-up to last year’s elections. The senator took another hit when Pat Toomey, the Club for Growth president who came within 17,000 votes of beating Specter in the 2004 primary, strongly suggested that he would enter this race.

For weeks, Specter had been approached by unions, including the AFL-CIO and the SEIU, that hinted at supporting him if he voted for EFCA—especially if Specter left the GOP and became an independent or a Democrat. But in his statement, asked to “end the rumor mill that I have made some deal for my political advantage.”

“This was a blunder on the part of the unions,” said Barbara Comstock, a Republican lawyer who is now running for the House of Delegates in Virginia. Comstock suggested that “thuggish” union behavior had backfired by making a pro-EFCA vote look like political opportunity, instead of an act of bi-partisan courage. “They really did their pay-to-play, [Blagojevich]-type politics.”

“Specter enjoys being the center of attention,” said Ernest Istook, a former congressman from Oklahoma who now chairs Save Our Secret Ballot, a group that’s trying to pass state ballot initiatives pre-empting any labor reform that would allow unions to form without secret ballot elections. He was less charitable about Specter’s decision. “There has probably been more money spent to influence his vote on this issue than on any other vote, from any other senator, at any other time. He wants to continue enjoying the attention and the fundraising opportunity.”

Istook told fellow anti-EFCA activists that Specter’s decision was a reason for “joy.” Elaine Chao, who served as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Labor for two terms, had a more tentative reaction. “It’s very positive,” said Chao, “but so long as this continues to foment, and third way options continue to come up, this is not dead. This is the number one issue of organized labor.” Chao pointed to a proposal from Costco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods, which was officially announced today by former Clinton White House Counsel Lanny Davis, to demonstrate that the issue isn’t dead.

Greg Mourad, the legislative director of National Rights at Work, worried about the timing of Specter’s decision so close to the announcement of the “third way” proposed by Davis. “The people I’m talking to are saying, ‘Why now?’” said Mourad. Thumbing his Blackberry and reading Specter’s statement, he worried that Specter only said that “this is the wrong time for this bill, not that he opposes in principle.”

Business groups loudly opposed the Davis proposal as soon as word of it leaked over the weekend. Norquist said that he’d met with business leaders who wanted conservatives to boycott Starbucks, Costco, and Whole Foods to show solidarity and nip the proposal in the bud. Now that Specter has “given us 41 votes,” said Norquist, there was no reason for any proposal to get a hearing.

“There’s nothing in this bill worth having,” said Norquist. “Conceding that anything in the bill is harmless is a mistake. None of it is any good.”

Conservatives pointed out that Specter’s decision to cross the unions had almost certainly ended any chance that they would support him, even if he voiced support for some sort of compromise bill. During the final panel of the CRC conference, Mourad sparred with Istook over the wisdom of keeping up anti-EFCA ballot fights in the states.

“We should oppose anything that gives Democrats cover to support this,” Mourad said. “We don’t want sow confusion and suggest that states can actually pre-empt EFCA, if some kind of bill does come up.”

Norquist, Mourad, and several other activists looked ahead—if there were 41 votes locked in against EFCA, it would help Republicans to hold a vote and put Democrats on the record before the 2010 elections.

“This is not a time to hibernate,” said Istook, “to go back to sleep, and to say we’ll deal with it in 2011 after the next elections. We must be dedicated to remain active, and to keep this issue alive.”

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Specter Bows to Conservative Pressure on Union Bill | Real Rumors
Pingback posted March 25, 2009 @ 1:40 am

[...] Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) (WDCpix) While a small group of conservative activists and journalists sat down for lunch at the University Club in downtown Washington, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform got a phone call from Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-Penn.) chief of staff, Scott Hoeflich. Specter—the moderate Republican who had once co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for labor unions to organize—had changed his mind. Norquist led off his short speech with Excerpt from: Specter Bows to Conservative Pressure on Union Bill [...]


Makaainana
Comment posted March 25, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

What in the world is the point of being the majority party when you can't even get a needed bill?

What kind of system lets rich, self indulgent, warm, dry, people make laws that prevent others from getting a decent wage for a days work? Congress has a guaranteed wage, is invulnerable to economic downturns and recession. It has an astounding pension and health plan with even more perks.

When they can say no to how a laborer expresses his desire to join a union, not if he can join, but what he has to do to join that is outrageous. There is no rational argument for not letting a laborer sign a card that says she wants to join a union. To vote no on such is simply responding to big money influence over workers. Its money before people.


EFCANOW
Comment posted March 25, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

EFCA Senator Specter A victim of FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion Tactics
by Employee Free Choice Act News

Wednesday Mar 25th, 2009 7:08 AM

Employee Free Choice Act: Senator Specter is No Different than a Worker Faced with an Employer Union Busting FEAR Campaign.

In an essay Senator Specter recently wrote for the Harvard Journal on Legislation, he states that for people like himself, “finding a practical solution is more important than political posturing.” That's why we're dismayed by those who say they support the democratic process, yet refuse to allow meaningful debate and a democratic vote on critical legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act.

Yesterday Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) had a change of heart after he announced that he would support a filibuster this year in an attempt to block the legislation from coming to a Senate floor vote.

What made Senator Specter change his mind after years of supporting cloture and the Employee Free Choice Act?

Surprisingly to most Senator Specter who was a sponsor of the original Employee Free Choice Act in 2003, supported the bill again in 2005 and voted against a Republican filibuster of it in 2007, was the newest victim to feel the wrath of a powerful union busting campaign built on FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion by Corporate Front Groups such as the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace who have embarked on a multi-million dollar public Union Busting campaign, against workers rights, the Employee Free Choice Act and targeted senators in key states that included polling, television, radio, Internet ads and direct mail.

Like most union campaigns workers who originally support unionization are faced with an all out assault by Employers who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in hiring Union Busting consultants who's job is to instill FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion tactics in an effort to defeat these workers from forming or joining a union.

Senator Specter who faced a primary from his own republican party caved into the pressure by these Corporate Front Groups NOT because he doesn't believe in the Employee Free Choice Act and workers rights, NOT because he doesn't believe in democracy or the right to debate legislation that could improve the lives of millions of working Americans but because the FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion tactics were enough for him to bare.

Ernest Istook, a former congressman from Oklahoma who now chairs Save Our Secret Ballot, a group that’s trying to pass state ballot initiatives pre-empting any labor reform that would allow unions to form without secret ballot elections. He was less charitable about Specter’s decision. “There has probably been more money spent to influence his vote on this issue than on any other vote, from any other senator, at any other time. He wants to continue enjoying the attention and the fundraising opportunity.”

While labor unions such as the AFL-CIO, SEIU, USW, UAW, Teamsters, Change to Win and the SPFPA continue to fight for The Employee Free Choice Act, which has now become the biggest Union Busting campaign in history, the record will show that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) like many workers who originally support unionization, higher wages, better benefits, better working conditions, a voice on the job, can be persuaded to vote against their beliefs if enough FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion tactics and pressure is bestowed upon them either by an Employer or a Corporate Front Group such as the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.

Senator Specter new position denouncing the Employee Free Choice Act on the senate floor yesterday is just one more reason why both congress and the senate need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act NOW!

For more information on Employer Intimidation and Union-Busting FEAR Tactics Press Below

http://efcanow.blogspot.com/2009/02/just-say-no…

http://www.TheTruthAboutEFCA.Org

http://efcanow.blogspot.com/

Tags: Arlen Specter, Employee Free Choice Act, Free Choice Act, Employee Free Choice, EFCA, Sen. Specter, Free Choice, Employee Free Choice Act Information, FEAR, Intimidation, Coercion, union busting, union avoidance, Corporate Front Groups, Employer Intimidation, Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, AFL-CIO, SEIU, USW, UAW, Teamsters, Change to Win, SPFPA


Hawaiian style
Comment posted March 30, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

Hypocrites. How can you swear to uphold the law and then deny such a small thing to a man. You have cloaked special interest big money employers first in all kinds of fake reasons. I did not know there were so many varieties of fig plants. The trees must be stripped bare of leaves.

If I was ever a Republican I certainly would change my party now. I prefer truth, honesty and openness in my politician even it he loses when he says it. Winning is not everything. Certainly winning through half-truths is shameful. It does not fool the Country. It does not create a good example for our citizens or the world. It is one of the reasons that party politics is so unproductive and devisive.

Openness in government, Truth in your public life and actions. Honesty and forthrightness seems to be and exception to the rule, when it should be the minimum in qualities for a Congress person.

Shame again Congress; Shame again. You would be better of to at least be honest and say I'm voting for my major campaign contributor and against the common man, sorry. Well so am I, sorry. Sorry for a person that has reached the heights of his/her career and has to lie and distort the truth to serve mammon instead of the people that voted for you.


pl
Comment posted April 12, 2009 @ 6:51 am

this is victory for america ,not just republicans.unions are pyramid scams.you got to get in early before they inflate wages to unsustainable proportions.


pl
Comment posted April 12, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

this is victory for america ,not just republicans.unions are pyramid scams.you got to get in early before they inflate wages to unsustainable proportions.


Wonk Room » Specter Switches Parties: What Does It Mean For Labor Law Reform?
Pingback posted April 28, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

[...] worth remembering that Specter was the lone Republican senator to support EFCA in 2007. He has also been a vocal proponent of labor law reform. In a 2007 article [...]


Photomaniacal » Blog Archive » Hugh Jackson: The GOP’s purists have no interest in making deals
Pingback posted April 30, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

[...] congressman Ernest Istook, who now heads an anti-EFCA group called Save Our Secret Ballot, scorned Specter’s decision. “Specter enjoys being the centre of attention,” Istook said. [...]


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Comment posted May 9, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

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