I saw on Talking Points memo’s DC Wire that Senator Tom Harkin is sounding out Republican colleagues on a potential compromise for the Employee Free Choice Act, according to Roll Call. The Republican leadership will certainly try to filibuster this bill, and Democrats do not currently have 60 votes in favor. Some weaselly Democrats who voted for the EFCA in 2007 (knowing President Bush would veto it) are hedging now. In addition, Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who has supported the EFCA in the past, has flipped on the issue in light of a primary challenge from the right.
CEOs from three companies (Costco, Whole Foods and Starbucks) proposed a compromise on the EFCA recently. Harkin and other leading Democrats are not willing to accept that proposal for various reasons. For one thing, it would not include binding arbitration.
Earlier this month, Harkin had an excellent response to Republican critics who say we can’t afford to help labor unions now:
“In 1935, we passed the Wagner Act that promoted unionization and allowed unions to flourish, and at the time we were at around 20 percent unemployment. So tell me again why we can’t do this in a recession?” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), invoking the pro-labor changes of the New Deal. “This is the time to do it. This is exactly the time we should be insisting on a fairer playing field for people to organize themselves.”
The Center for American Progress Action Fund created this outstanding web page supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. You’ll find many useful resources there, including a basic overview of what the EFCA would and would not do and an interactive map showing why unions are good for workers and the economy.
I clicked on Iowa and learned, “Union workers in Iowa make 8.40 percent ($1.48 per hour) more than non-union workers, on average.” (Click here and scroll down the page to see how the Center for Economic Policy Research calculated those figures.) Higher wages are not only good for individual families, they boost the economy as a whole consumer spending drives so much economic activity.
I am pessimistic about the prospects for passing the EFCA this year, but I give Harkin credit for trying to find a compromise that would still make it significantly easier for workers to form unions.