As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Employee Free Choice Rumblings

It's pretty obvious that the Employee Free Choice Act will be among the most contentious of the new session, and therefore the one where I would have expected Democrats to be the most reticent. Maybe it's the reliance on labor in electoral politics, but they're actually being pretty open about it, at the highest levels. Over the weekend, Steny Hoyer corrected the record on Fox News Sunday about the intent of the bill, which is not to "eliminate the secret ballot election" in the workplace but to improve a broken workplace election process.

Hoyer specifically said that the House would pass Employee Free Choice "early" in the next session. Then the Senate released their first ten bills of the year, and the second one certainly sounds like Employee Free Choice would be folded into it.

S.2 -- Middle Class Opportunity Act of 2009. Sound familiar? This is a retread of a bill sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer in the last Congress that has a variety of tax reform goals; the additional descriptions in this bill include hints at union support ("ensuring workers can exercise their rights to freely choose to form a union without employer interference") and perhaps another go at the Ledbetter law ("removing barriers to fair pay for all workers").

Considering that the House will vote as early as tomorrow on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, this collection of bills may get an early passage as well. And Harry Reid is at least being vocal about the bill.

Reid declined to speculate as to when the controversial, union-backed “card-check” legislation will pass the upper chamber. Yet he said the bill is important to him and Obama.

“The union movement was hurt very, very badly in the Bush administration, and we are going to reverse that.”

Reid said he is interested in working with Republicans on card-check.

“But remember,” Reid said with a smile, “we think we only need two Republican votes.”

I like the commitment to cherry-picking. You're not going to get a bipartisan bill on Employee Free Choice, so you might as well go in knowing the numbers.

This is pretty good news and I hope labor keeps pressuring the Democratic leadership to get this passed. The backlash has kind of fizzled and a swift passage is totally realistic.

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