Why Is Andy Stern Buttering Up Anti-EFCA Arlen Specter?

Josh makes a fair point. Arlen Specter has lied through his teeth consistently, why should now be any different. But Specter was mighty clear during his press conference today not to expect that he'll be a reliable vote for Democrats, particularly on card check.

"I note that some of the news stories since my statement was released this morning are taking a look at the 60th vote -- and I will not be an automatic 60th vote," said Specter. "And I would illustrate that by my position on employee's choice, also known as card check. I think it is a bad bill, and I'm opposed to it and would not vote to invoke cloture."

And what does he get for his defiance? A ridiculously warm welcome from Andy Stern, President of the SEIU, which has been out front in advocating for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

"It's clear to us that the right-wing conservatives in control of the leadership of the Republican party in Pennsylvania left Senator Specter long ago and we are pleased that he has decided to do the same. Just as he did with his leadership on the economic stimulus bill, Senator Specter has once again demonstrated the political courage it takes to put the interests of the working families of Pennsylvania ahead of partisanship. We have always had tremendous common ground with Senator Specter on issues important to working families including the need for reform to our nation's labor laws. We look forward to continuing our long history of working with Senator Specter to create positive change for the working families of Pennsylvania."

I actually think I threw up a little. "Political courage?" Really? This was a coward's move. "Interests of working families?" You know he said he's NOT voting for EFCA, right?

So why is Andy Stern kissing Specter's ass as though he's on his side as opposed to starting immediately to pressure him from the left to move him to his side? Does he know something we don't?

Here's more from Stern c/o Ben Smith:

"We are pleased that he's now free to speak his mind without needing to be aligned with the Republican leadership," he said in an interview. "We think we'll get a truer picture of what Arlen Specter believes in his heart."

Stern suggested that Specter's opposition to EFCA might not extend to voting for cloture, though Specter suggested otherwise in his statement.

"On many issues, including cloture, the Democrats have worked as a party to at least allow debate," Stern said. "Having a 60th member of the party should allow for a lot more debate, and not have one or two individuals hold up progress."

We hear a similar refrain from Bill Samuel, a top lobbyist for the AFL-CIO:

"In his mind, he wants fundamental labor law reform," said Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO's top lobbyist. He sees Specter's switch as a positive sign for card-check, which had seemed doomed for this Congress after Specter and Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) both said they would not support the bill.

"He is liberated, in some sense, to follow his heart. In his heart, he really wants to see the law improved for workers," Samuel told The Hill.

Sounds like labor is fairly confident that Specter can be moved to a Yes on cloture position merely by virtue of being in the Democratic caucus. Or maybe they see an acceptable compromise coming down the pike, as Harry Reid told The Hill:

"There may be another iteration of card-check coming along," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday, after pointedly stating that Specter has said he could not vote for the card-check bill in its current form.

What with Specter's penchant for telling lies of convenience with impunity and the fact that Specter supported EFCA in 2007, gaining a Yes from him on cloture for either the same bill or a watered down version, would seem on paper not to be too terribly difficult. So, fair enough, let's give Andy Stern the benefit of the doubt for now that he knows something I don't and I'll follow Josh's advice to "disbelieve all Specter's assertions equally" but I sure hope that if and when Specter holds firm on his promise to oppose EFCA -- in whatever version it comes up -- that SEIU will be first in line to support a primary challenge to Specter.  

Tags: Arlen Specter, EFCA (all tags)



Re: Why Is Andy Stern Buttering Up

If Specter doesn't vote for cloture most of the time then I think he will have problems in the Democratic primary. He will probably turn out to be on par with Ben Nelson now that he is a Democrat. Not great.

I wonder why Specter does not support Dawn Johnsen since he is pro-choice and supposedly against executive power. Does anyone know? Thanks.

by Lolis 2009-04-28 09:06PM | 0 recs
even if he knows something

Stern should not be praising Specter so much until he gets something concrete from Specter. I agree with you.

The obvious way to let Specter save face is to introduce a new version of the EFCA that has minimal changes. The obvious danger is that the changes could end up being more than minimal (e.g. a bill that doesn't include binding arbitration).

by desmoinesdem 2009-04-28 09:06PM | 0 recs
I had a conversation tonight

with someone from AFL-CIO in New York about this at an event for my State Senator. He basically told me they're punting on EFCA to use it as a 2011 election issue, but he also seemed to get defensive when I began arguing in favor of it. Saying stuff like "we don't have support in our ranks" and "the bill can be modified" and "this isn't as important to us right now...Jobs are."

Could the unions actually be the ones sabatoging EFCA? I find it hard to believe, but I also found it unbelievable that they don't seem interested in fighting for it.

by DTOzone 2009-04-28 09:44PM | 0 recs
Along similar lines...

From the New Yorker today:

Specter has wiggle room when it comes to labor. In March, Specter dealt a body blow to the Employee Free Choice Act--which would make it easier for unions to organize--when he recanted his support. In his statement today, he said it again: "[M]y position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change."

"Card check" or "majority sign-up" would allow workers to form a union if more than half signed a card expressing support. Business interests say it would crush the dignity of the secret ballot. But last week, Andy Stern, the head of the Service Employees International Union and maybe the most powerful labor leader in the country, told the Washington Post that he was open to a deal on card check. "Whether it's majority sign up or not, workers have to have a choice about having an election. The bill has to address... fast elections, eliminating employer behavior and what happens if there are employer violations."

If card check is off the table, Specter can claim that he found common ground while ensuring that labor doesn't try to take him down in the 2010 Democratic Primary. (Stern has already applauded Specter's defection.)

Azi Zenilman - Three Quick Thoughts on Specter's Defection The New Yorker 28 Apr 09

Sounds like your friend might have had a point.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-04-28 11:02PM | 0 recs
Re: I had a conversation tonight

Could you elaborate on that?  Because the way I read you was that they don't have the support within their membership, yet they want to use it as an election issue.  That doesn't make any sense to me.

And who was the guy?  You don't have to name names, but if it was the head of the machinists for example, it means fuckall.  The AFL-CIO isn't set up to really push for things anyway - they have a huge war chest but not as much organizing power, and there are some less than progressive elements in it.  The days of Lane Kirkland aren't that long ago.

I'd be more curious to see what SEIU is up to.  And to a lesser extent AFSCME.

by Jess81 2009-04-29 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Is Andy Stern Buttering Up

Out of curiosity, what changed in the EFCA since Specter LAST voted FOR cloture.  I mean, I could at least understand his switch with the GOP Primary next year... that made sense to me (even if it sucked).. but now that he switched parties, I'm curious why its BAD now but not last session?  

by 30000Fine 2009-04-29 05:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Is Andy Stern Buttering Up

Just wagering a guess - because this session it has a chance of passing?

by Jess81 2009-04-29 05:31AM | 0 recs
Does casey get this much

attention for being pro-life?

by sepulvedaj3 2009-04-29 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Does casey get this much

I wouldn't expect Planned Parenthood to give him a standing ovation anytime soon.

by Jess81 2009-04-29 01:06PM | 0 recs


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