AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka predicted on Monday that the Employee Free Choice Act -- the provision that would give workers easier avenues to unionize -- will be passed into law in the next few months.
"I think you will see the Employee Free Choice Act pass in the first quarter of 2010," said Trumka.
The comment, delivered at the end of an address Trumka gave before the National Press Club, is by far the most optimistic assessment of the legislation's prospects in recent memory. Before health care reform took center stage, EFCA had seemingly run up against a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate. And while it's hard to see the political landscape improving in the bill's favor, Trumka insisted that the provision will pass after the election.
"The president fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, the Vice President fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the members of the House support the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the people of the Senate support the Employee Free Choice Act. And I think we are going to have the Employee Free Choice Act despite the determined efforts of the Republican Party..."
The AFL-CIO header did not comment on a proposal to drop one provision (majority sign-up -- in which 50 percent of workers signing cards is enough to trigger an election for the creation of a union) in favor of securing another (binding arbitration -- which allows an arbitrator to rule on a dispute in a timely manner rather then letting the disagreement go to court). But he did insist that he and other union leaders are gearing up to make another push.
"I think every workshop ought to have a union in it," said Trumka. "Because I believe better decisions are made when you sit down at the table as an equal."