Friday, April 3, 2009

EFCA under fire has a nice update and critique of present state of the Employee Free Choice Act, which is stalling out in the Senate to the point of appearing dead in the water.

I am very much sympathetic to the ISO's line on the strategic question of how to get the EFCA passed. Organized labor, particularly Change to Win and the AFL-CIO have spent a lot of time, money and human resources trying to 'lobby' members of the Senate and run TV ads. Adam Turl, the author of the piece, hints that because Big Business will always have more money and access to the halls of power, that perhaps labor shouldn't have embarked on the lobbying route at all. I disagree with that conclusion, although it is undeniably true that Big Business will always be on top in that fight. While its true that labor's emphasis ought to have been elsewhere (grassroots campaigns, etc.), I don't think this necessarily precludes any lobbying efforts whatsoever.

Indeed as Turl points out, the lobbying must be done right. That is to say, it must be conducted with the assumption that virtually nobody in the Senate is going to simply listen to 'good arguments' and vote accordingly. Pressure of some sort or another is what moves them. That, and maintaining their seat. Hence why Arlen Specter (R-PA), who co-sponsored EFCA in 2003 and voted against a GOP filibuster to kill the bill in 2007, has pulled a complete 180. He now staunchly opposes EFCA. Do you think he heard some good arguments and simply realized on the basis of reason alone that he had to change his views?

The worst part about the Change to Win, et. al lobbying effort is that it placed disproportionate attention on pleading with conservative Democrats (like senators from Arkansas), thus focusing public discussion and media debate on their terrain. It still feels too much like labor is tugging on pant legs pleading for later curfew or something. I dont see how this galvanizes the rank-and-file, nor does it create a situation like we saw in the 30s when labor militancy was, quite literally, a force that Capital and the White House alike could not ignore.

But labor's strategic failings are maybe 20% of the problem here. The real tragedy is that Democrats are jumping ship now, joining the ranks of Arlen Specter. Right-wing jerks like Ben Nelson (D-ND) show their true colors in a moment of struggle. Now, under intense pressure from Big Business, the Democrats are folding. What does this say about the Democrats? What does this say about Obama, who as I far as I can tell has been laying low on this issue? (recall back during the campaign he said: In response to a question about EFCA from a worker, Obama replied, "I won't just wait for the bill to reach my desk. I will work actively as part of my agenda to make sure that it reaches my desk...)

They had to know this was going to be war. I mean, the Chamber of Commerce told them it would be "Armaggeddon". We saw Walmart gearing up about a year ago in preparation.

Can the Democrats really claim "they tried"? Can they really defer this to a time when they will purportedly have more influence, more seats and more political capital? I'm not sure I can imagine when that would possibly be.

1 comment:

A Very Public Sociologist said...

Dear T

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