Just wanted to make sure this got mentioned here, even though it's not a strictly Connecticut issue, although it certainly effects many people here. The employee free choice act, one of the top priorities of labor in this year's congressional session, is dead. This bill would have allowed workers to form a union by card-check. The Senate did not reach cloture to end debate and vote. (51-48. They needed 60 votes to force a vote) Steven Greenhouse from the New York Times:The bill would have given workers the right to insist on a procedure, known as majority sign-up, that allows employees at a workplace to form a union as soon as a majority of them signed cards saying they wanted one. Under current law, an employer facing a unionization drive can insist on a secret-ballot election. The bill fueled a feverish lobbying battle between business and labor. Corporate lobbyists and their Republican allies asserted that the bill would infringe on workers’ rights by denying employees the right to a secret-ballot election. Union officials and their Democratic allies said the bill was needed to help reverse labor’s decline, because employers often defeat unionization drives by intimidating and firing workers during secret-ballot elections.
60 Million Workers would join a union if given the opportunity. But this bill didn't even get the chance to get a presidential veto. And those 60 million workers can continue to get harassed and intimidated, and never have the option to gain a measure of job security, fair wages, decent benefits, and self-determination in the workplace.
Sirota sums up exactly what I was thinking when I read the previous link:
So again the question is why? Why would Democratic leaders bring up EFCA as a standalone bill - that is, in a form that is most politically easy for the average Republican to oppose? Is it just that Democrats have no “strategery?” Or is it something more insidious?
Does it have something to do with Democrats wanting to set up a situation that allows them to claim they care about workers and labor rights, while making sure that those labor rights continue to get trampled? This wouldn’t be unprecedented…at all. In fact, we saw this situation recently on the Iraq bill, where Democrats manipulated parliamentary procedure to deliberately engineer a situation that let them simultaneously claim they were doing all they could to oppose the war while helping make sure the war continues. Are we experiencing the same thing now with worker rights? And if we are, does it have something to do with the spate of stories about Big Business showering top Democratic leaders in cash and throwing Democratic Hill staffers offers of six-figure corporate lobbying jobs?
I honestly don’t know the answer, as it can sometimes be very tough to tell whether the behavior from folks in Congress is driven by short-sightedness or corruption. That said, its not like Senate defeat of EFCA was a surprise - Democrats knew from the get-go that it would lose as a standalone bill, meaning it really is possible they don’t truly want it to pass in the first place. Nonetheless, moving forward, the bottom line is clear: If Democrats really want to get EFCA passed - as American workers need them to and as they should as the supposed party that represents those workers - it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than setting up legislative scenarios that make sure EFCA doesn’t pass.