Officers with the powerful Service Employees International Union are meeting Tuesday with newly minted Democrat Arlen Specter, a labor official confirms.
Anna Burger, Chair of Change to Win and Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU, as well as Eileen Connelly, the Pennsylvania State Council Executive Director, sat down with the new Democratic senator. What was discussed was not immediately known, but undoubtedly the topics covered included Specter's continued opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act and how it will affect the labor community's support for him in 2010. On Monday, SEIU president Andy Stern met with Specter's most likely primary rival, Rep. Joe Sestak.
The union community has worked the Specter defection with a fair amount of political craftiness. Labor officials have strongly suggested that, absent a commitment to their core legislative principles, they would be more than comfortable supporting a primary challenger or even backing former governor Tom Ridge, should he run in and win the Republican primary.
These hints, combined with growing concern over Specter's politics from the Democratic community at large, have created policy pressure points that seem to be changing the dynamic on issues like the Employee Free Choice Act. Democrats on the Hill and in the labor community feel more confident now than a week ago that Specter will come out in favor of a compromise bill as a means of shoring up his progressive flank.