Senate Democratic leaders met Thursday afternoon in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office, two sources familiar with the meeting say, to discuss compromise options to get to 60 votes for Labor's top priority, the Employee Free Choice Act (or card check).
Reid and his top two deputies, Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois, huddled with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M). The group hashed out strategy going forward but set no timetable for action. Harkin updated those present on what progress he's made in forging a compromise. Glenn Thrush reported on the meeting earlier.
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) has said he is open to support some type of EFCA compromise. Conservatives have latched on to an effort to preserve the "secret ballot" -- saying that it prevents union intimidation. But scheduling an election in the distant future allows bosses to fire and pressure workers before the vote. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has suggested preserving the secret ballot by mailing in votes.
Under the current proposal, workers could still choose to hold a secret ballot election, but it would be exceedingly unlikely to happen, given that the union could be formed simply by turning in cards representing 50 percent of the workers plus one. A union organizer, of course, would rather have a certified union than a pending election -- given the choice.