On Arlen's Side
The President held a fundraiser for Arlen Specter yesterday. Which makes sense for him - Specter is favored, helping him overtly keeps him on the Administration's side, and considering all the attacks from Republicans, having a former one switch to your side probably feels pretty good.
And Specter has been a good soldier thus far, voting with his party over 90% of the time and supporting a public option in health care reform and even hammering out an agreement on the Employee Free Choice Act.
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) on Tuesday told the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh that he has been working hard “for hours” on a deal with other key senators, such as Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as labor leaders, on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
“We have pounded out an Employees Choice bill which will meet labor’s objectives,” Specter said. “I believe before the year is out, and I will join my colleague Sen. [Bob] Casey [Jr. (D-Pa.)] in predicting, that there will be passage of an Employees Free Choice Act which will be totally satisfactory to labor.”
The bill is one of the labor movement’s most important legislative priorities this Congress, one they believe is necessary to protect workers’ rights. Specter’s prediction was greeted by a prolonged standing ovation from the convention’s attendees, members of the nation’s largest union federation.
It looks to be a bill with real penalties for labor law violators, binding arbitration for a contract if a workplace gets unionized and no deal between labor and management could be reached, and no delays in union certification. Card check is probably not in the bill, I would guess, but that alone would represent a real achievement in labor law and an expansion of the potential for unionization.
So that's great. And Specter is being a good soldier. But he does not get anointed as a result. And indeed, much of his good work is being caused by the fact of a primary fight with Joe Sestak. Which could lead to a dramatic change in labor law.
...Another example. Specter called for single-payer to be put on the table. The backstory here is that a single-payer bill is winding through the Pennsylvania legislature with a lot of support, and Specter wants a part of that.
We need to immediately move to primaries in every blue or purple state to put the heat on these Senators.