Arlen Specter's decision to become a Democrat makes the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act much more fluid and passage much more likely.
The labor movement will re-double our already overwhelming efforts in Pennsylvania to convince the Senator to once again support the bill that he was a co-sponsor of in the last Congress.
Labor is re-energized by his decision. Grassroots union activity--already at a fever pitch--is escalating even more.
Meanwhile, union leaders like Steelworkers President Leo Gerard are taking note of Democratic operatives who've sold out to Corporate America.
Last week in the Wall St. Journal, Thomas Frank exposed some of the Democratic lobbyists and loyalists who are doing all they can on behalf of Walmart and Corporate America to defeat organized labor's number one priority--the Employee Free Choice Act.
The list--hardly exhaustive--includes the Podesta Group, D and P Creative Strategies, and Ingrid Duran. All on the payroll of Walmart. All siding with Walmart and Corporate America against workers and the American Labor movement.
Is it any wonder that Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, home of Walmart, is having trouble supporting the Employee Free Choice Act when she once was once was a co-sponsor?
As Thomas Frank said, "Why does labor always get it in the neck?"
After all, besides its money, the labor movement provided the tens of thousands of ground troops for Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008. Who -- other than educated and motivated union members -- had those tens of thousands of hard conversations about race and class and inequality and the future of America in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Indiana in white communities that opened up hearts and minds to Barack Obama?
Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act will have a lot to do with the survival of collective bargaining in America's private sector. We expect Corporate America and the radical rightwing to fight to defend the status quo of stagnant and declining wages, healthcare rationing by income or wealth, ballooning corporate profits and CEO pay, falling consumer demand, increasing unemployment--but Democrats?!
For any Democrat to side with Corporate America and the radical rightwing against the labor movement and the Employee Free Choice Act today when it is clear that Corporate America and the radical rightwing are responsible for running the American economy into the ditch, are responsible for the highest inequality since 1929, are responsible for the meltdown of our economy, for 30 years of stagnant and declining wages, for our healthcare crisis, and for the squeeze on the Middle Class is inexcusable.
Say this for Republicans, they would never assault an element of their base so important to their party.
After NAFTA and PNTR for China and welfare reform and CAFTA and the incessant weakening of America's labor laws, unions are watching closely. Having a D beside your name or on your lobbying shingle is no longer enough.
NAFTA, CAFTA, SHAFTA. We're fed up with Democrats that talk the talk but don't walk the walk. Stand with organized labor on the Employee Free Choice Act or stand with Walmart. There's no middle ground.
Which side are you on?
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