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Sen. Arlen Specter Flip Flop and Workers Rights
by Employee Free Choice Act EFCA Penn News Wednesday, Apr. 08, 2009 at 7:02 PM
Employee Free Choice Act EFCA: in 2005, in a video message to AFL-CIO Convention delegates, Specter boasted about the seniority he achieved thanks to union members’ support and proudly proclaimed himself a “lead sponsor” of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Specter Supported Employee Free Choice Before He Was Against It
by Seth Michaels, Apr 7, 2009 AFL-CIO Blog
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) today repeated his intent on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to block a Senate vote on the Employee Free Choice Act, despite his past support of the bill. The bill hasn’t changed—so why has Specter flipped?
Compiling a few video clips, we look at Specter’s most recent statements and compare them with what he said in 2005, when he was “delighted” to join Sen. Ted Kennedy, Rep. George Miller and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Back then, Specter said the bill was important and necessary, worth supporting specifically because the option of majority sign-up needs to be available if workers want it to form a union.
Said Specter in 2005:
We held hearings last year and it was my conclusion, my judgment that this legislation ought to be pursued.
The basic approach, that workers should have an opportunity by majority rule to determine labor organization, is fundamental in America.
That was when Specter felt current law was “unwise” to allow the kind of management delays and coercion that were—and are—too common in the process of forming unions. He argued explicitly in favor of making sure workers had the option of majority sign-up.
Later in 2005, in a video message to AFL-CIO Convention delegates, Specter boasted about the seniority he achieved thanks to union members’ support and proudly proclaimed himself a “lead sponsor” of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Now, after consulting with “interested parties,” Specter has changed his mind on the issue, saying he won’t even support allowing the bill to get a simple vote in the full Senate.
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The language of the bill is the same now as when Specter co-sponsored it in 2005. It’s the same language as it was in 2007, when Specter voted against a filibuster and in support of allowing a Senate vote.
The video encourages viewers to call Specter and see what his position on the bill is today. You can reach his office in Allentown, Pa., at 610-434-1444 or his office in Washington, D.C., at 202-224-4254.
Tags: Arlen Specter, EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act, labor, Pennsylvania, Senate, union, union blogs, unions
Ed Schultz Kicks off New MSNBC Show with USW’s Gerard
by Mike Hall, Apr 7, 2009 AFL-CIO Blog
Popular progressive radio show host Ed Schultz, who now anchors ”The Ed Show“ on MSNBC television, hosted Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers (USW), on the program’s first installment Monday night.
Gerard told viewers: “We cannot put this country back on its feet by continuing to worship at the knees of the financial community that put us in this mess. We’ve got to go back to start to make things in America; we’ve got to put people back to work; we’ve got to save the auto industry.”
Gerard discussed the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States and what the demise of our auto industry would mean to other sectors. He stressed the need to reform health care and fix our trade policies with China. (Click here for the full interview.)
“The Ed Show” airs Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. EDT on MSNBC. Says Schultz:
I look forward to having a day-to-day discussion with fellow Americans on issues that really matter to all of us.
A 30-year radio veteran, Schultz is the top-rated progressive talker on radio and an avid voice for the middle class. His syndicated radio program, “The Ed Schultz Show,” airs live weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. (EDT) with a weekly audience of more than 3 million listeners on 100 stations across the country.
Says MSNBC President Phil Griffin:
Ed’s proven that he can connect with Americans….He has been the breakthrough talent in an industry dominated by conservative voices.
Tags: blogs, Ed Schultz, labor, Leo Gerard, MSNBC, The Ed Show, union, United Steelworkers, USW
Congress Recesses, But Employee Free Choice Campaign Heats Up
by Seth Michaels, Apr 7, 2009 AFL-CIO Blog
More than 1,000 San Diego workers marched last weekend in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.
State by state, thousands of workers and community groups are taking this two-week congressional recess as an opportunity to speak directly to their members of Congress about the Employee Free Choice Act.
In more than 300 public events, including rallies, town hall meetings, phone banks and deliveries of letters to the local offices of members of the House and Senate, workers and allies in the religious, civil rights and small business communities are letting their elected officials know they demand quick passage of this critical bill protecting workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life.
Already, the broad coalition for Employee Free Choice has seen successful recess events, including a rally attended by 150 people in Arkansas, the hand-delivery of hundreds of letters in Pennsylvania and 1,000 workers marching through San Diego. Events in support of the Employee Free Choice Act are taking place nationwide.
Nebraska union members write letters asking their senators to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
In Indiana, local small business owners got together Friday for a community meeting to talk about why they support the Employee Free Choice Act and workers’ freedom to form unions.
For David Livinghouse, the owner of a restaurant in Indianapolis, his business depends on having a strong customer base. The tough times for Indiana’s economy have hurt his restaurant, and the best remedy, he says, is making sure workers have good jobs with fair wages. He also credits his father’s union with giving him a middle-class upbringing and the opportunity to start a business, as well as providing his father with a secure pension that supports him in retirement.
Elsewhere in Indiana, letter-writing sessions continue as union members and allies reach out to Congress, and the Northwest Indiana Federation of Labor hosted a gathering in support of the Employee Free Choice Act today.
Another small business event took place Friday in Van Buren, Ark., where three members of the business community talked about why they felt the Employee Free Choice Act was critical to a strong economy, for workers and employers alike.
The AFL-CIO’s Stewart Acuff is on the road in support of the massive grassroots campaign, visiting Nebraska and Colorado to help mobilize workers. Press Here For Story
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says the size and scale of the grassroots efforts in support of the Employee Free Choice Act are signs of the momentum for workers’ freedom to form unions.
This massive grassroots mobilization shows that working people really want and need passage of real labor law reform in 2009. Without workers’ freedom to bargain for better wages and benefits, our economy can’t be rebuilt for everyone.
Unions Fight On For Free Choice, Look To Unify
The Atlantic's Chris Good reports labor took a step towards unification to help pass Employee Free Choice and health care: "The largest labor organizations in the country have formed a coalition to guide talks of a unified labor movement: the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, in addition to major affiliate unions and the unaffiliated National Education Association, today formed a National Labor Coordinating Committee, chaired by former Rep. David Bonior ... labor now finds itself acting as a major player in two massive legislative/lobbying efforts: the Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform. Bonior today implied that labor needs to unify if it wants to take advantage of its newfound position of power"
W. Post's Harold Meyerson offers backstory and analysis:
The union presidents have largely agreed to focus the federation (its name is still up in the air) on the political and lobbying operations at which the AFL-CIO has excelled. They will continue meeting over the next several months to hammer out details -- a timetable that could produce a plan to be ratified at the AFL-CIO's convention in September.
The unification is the result of both dashed hopes and new hopes. The dashed hopes are those of the founders of Change to Win, who argued that by focusing on organizing rather than politics, they could reverse the decline in union membership. That proved not to be the case, which is why all of labor now sees passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would protect workers' right to join unions, as key to their expansion -- or survival...
...the most daunting task the unions face is passing the Employee Free Choice Act -- a challenge that's grown steeper since Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln (D-Walmart) announced that they wouldn't support the legislation in its current form. Labor must calculate how much it can compromise on a bill that is essential to rebuilding private-sector unions in America, and whether it can renew the fight if the Democrats pick up more senators in next year's midterm elections -- a campaign to which a newly unified labor movement would bring greater numbers, more coordination and a desperate ferocity.
HuffPost's Art Levine on continuing grassroots efforts to pass Employee Free Choice: "With Congress in recess, unions are using the two-week respite to spark activism among not only union members but their progressive allies, including religious leaders, small business owners, civil rights groups and student organizations." Press Here for Story
Tags: AFL-CIO, Arlen Specter, EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act, labor, Pennsylvania, Senate, union, union blogs, unions, Free Choice Act, EFCA, Employee Free Choice, blogs, Ed Schultz, Leo Gerard, MSNBC, The Ed Show, union, United Steelworkers, USW