The first bill Senator Al Franken co-sponsored after being sworn in yesterday was the Employee Free Choice Act. It's a cause Paul Wellstone would have supported strongly. (Click here for background on the EFCA.)
The Hill reported yesterday,
As expected, Franken has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee, Indian Affairs Committee and Aging Committee. He will also sit on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee once the panel finishes marking up the healthcare reform legislation.
I don't understand the logic of making Franken wait until after the health care bill markup before joining the HELP Committee, but at least he will be there when the Employee Free Choice Act is debated.
Getting to 60 votes on the EFCA will be a challenge, but Senator Tom Harkin has been working on a compromise since March. He told Bloomberg News in May that the "card check" provision may have to be dropped from the EFCA in order to get the bill through the Senate. "Card check" means that workers could form a union if a majority sign a document stating that they would like to join a union. Harkin suggested that a compromise bill might incorporate other changes to the election process and procedures for forming a labor union.
In that interview, Harkin did not mention whether binding arbitration would be a part of a workable compromise. Some people consider binding arbitration provisions to be as important a part of the EFCA as card check.
Whatever compromise Harkin crafts, I'm glad to know that Franken will be a voice for strong labor reform on the HELP Committee. I can't wait to go hear Franken keynote Harkin's steak fry on September 13.
UPDATE: Harkin's communications director Kate Cyrul told Iowa Independent that Harkin is still working on this bill and expects the EFCA to pass this year.