Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Signs of Hope to Defeat the Union Anti-Secret-Ballot Act


The battle over the "Employee Free Choice Act" -- expected to be introduced Tuesday -- is seen as a power struggle among labor unions and businesses, as well as a test of whether moderate Democrats and Republicans will push back on Democratic congressional leaders and the Obama administration.

At least six Senators who have voted to move forward with the so-called card-check proposal, including one Republican, now say they are opposed or not sure -- an indication that Senate Democratic leaders are short of the 60 votes they need for approval.

The legislation is divisive and distracting, said Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in an interview Monday, and believes the Senate should focus on improving the U.S. economy.

Sen. Lincoln is one of several moderate Democrats expressing doubts about the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill would allow unions to organize workers without a secret ballot, giving employees the power to organize by simply signing cards agreeing to join. A second provision would give federal arbitrators power to impose contract terms on companies that fail to reach negotiated agreements with unions.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) is one of a handful of Senate Democrats who have backed off from previous support for the union-backed "Employee Free Choice Act."

Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) has also backed off from his previous support for the bill and says now that 'I will consider amendments to make it better.'

Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) was a supporter of the legislation in 2007, but he's wavering now and says, 'I'm being lobbied on it very, very heavily.'

Both labor and businesses say they don't see a reason to compromise. But labor unions acknowledged Monday they are in for a long fight. "While we know it won't be easy, we're confident" that the legislation will be enacted, said Christy Setzer, a spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union.

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