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Playing Nicely to Take Away the Secret Ballot

Today we got mixed messages on the progress of the Employee Free Choice Act. First, as if hot off the presses, at the ALF-CIO we learn:

With successful passage of the $787 billion stimulus package in their rearview mirror, organized labor is returning to their top political priority: convincing Congress and the President to pass and sign the Employee Free Choice Act, or card check, which would remove significant barriers to unionizing.  Labor’s working with a coalition of Democratic allies, including the Center for American Progress Action Fund, which will release a  report tomorrow on the benefits of unionization for the U.S. economy.  The grassroots field campaign of the unions continues to be gradually ratcheted up; events will be held in 16 states. And labor is working nicely together: the state-based events are being done in complete coordination between AFL-CIO, Change to Win, and SEIU, who will be working in total coordination to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

That “barrier” to unionization is the secret ballot, in case it wasn’t crystal clear from that bit of propaganda. But it’s always nice when Big Labor works “nicely” with others. Oh, and ACORN is on it too.

But wait. There is trouble afoot in the fight to “remove significant barriers” (this really sounds like the Soviet Union, not the AFL-CIO to be honest). It seems the Blue Dogs in the House prevailed upon the Democratic House leadership not to hold a vote until the Senate does. You have to love the creative explanation:

“Their concern is that the House will pass something, then the Senate will take up the bill and do something different,” the senior leadership aide tells me. “The Blue Dogs don’t want to end up voting on something that won’t even become law. They’re saying, ‘See what can get through the Senate first, and then we’ll vote on it.’”

Translation: they don’t want to vote on this ever. You recall when last we heard from Harry Reid he wasn’t going to bring this to a vote until he had 60 votes. But with Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, Arlen Specter, (don’t count on that vote) and even Susan Collins (who beat back a heavily union-backed campaign to hold her senate seat) Reid doesn’t have the 60 votes.

So those “significant barriers” — that is, the right of workers to decide by secret ballot whether they want a union — don’t seem in danger of crumbling anytime soon. But there’s no telling what can happen with all those Democratic allies playing so nicely.



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