THE BLOG
03/06/2009 03:37 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Are DC Pundits Wrong Again? Obama, Biden Boost Pro-Union Bill's Prospects

The media pundits and "savvy" insider strategists who brought you GOP nominee Mitt Romney, unstoppable President Hillary Clinton and hosannas for the all-knowing Alan Greenspan may be facing another surprise over the Employee Free Choice Act.

Despite some in Washington echoing conservative-fed downbeat political speculation and talking points about the pro-union Employee Free Choice Act, strong support for the bill from Barack Obama and Joe Biden at this week's AFL-CIO meeting in Miami spurred opposing reactions that tell a different story.

Conservatives have offered horrified attacks while a new optimism is emerging from union supporters.

One union strategist even proclaimed in an email to reporters:

What have we learned this week? That the Obama Administration is 100
PERCENT behind the Employee Free Choice Act.

All chatter, gossip, and innuendo to the contrary turned out to be just
the usual BS pushed around by opponents of workers actually having a
voice at their job.

President Obama explicitly said he supports the Employee Free Choice
Act.

Vice President Joe Biden explicitly said he supports the Employee Free
Choice Act.

Sec. of Labor Solis explicitly said she supports the Employee Free
Choice Act.

Vice-President Biden's statement provided the clearest indication yet that not only does the Administration support the bill, it will work for it, too. As The New York Times and other news outlets reported:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. gave organized labor an extremely warm embrace on Thursday at the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s executive council meeting here.

Mr. Biden began by thanking the presidents of several unions, including the painters, firefighters, teachers and mine workers, for campaigning alongside him in various states last fall.

"It's good to be home," Mr. Biden told a ballroom in the Fountainebleau Hotel that was filled with union leaders and their aides. "The best place for me to be in my whole career is to be surrounded by organized labor."

Then, he added to huge applause, "You all brought me to the dance a long time ago, and it's time we start dancing."

He also championed union organizing legislation, a proposal that is becoming one of the more contentious proposals up on Capitol Hill, with battle lines already drawn between labor and business.

Despite Biden's strong endorsement, the National Association of Manufacturer's blog, Shopfloor, tried its best to keep the "savvy" insider narrative line going that it was only a brief, lukewarm endorsement that didn't improve the bill's chances:

Surprisingly brief comments about the Employee Free Chocie Act. In fact, just a single paragraph. The AFL-CIO leaders must be disappointed....

"So, folks, that's why there's no one thing we have to do. This is all going to be difficult, and one of the most difficult things will be to reinstitute that basic bargain. And I think the way to do that is the Employee Free Choice Act. (Applause.)

"Folks, let's get it straight -- we're not asking -- we're not asking for anything we don't deserve. And we're not asking for anything that wasn't intended when the NLRB said we should be encouraging -- encouraging -- unions. We just want to level this playing field again."

But, in fact, the AFL-CIO and other unions aren't disappointed at all. As the AFL-CIO blog reported yesterday:

Vice President Joe Biden told the AFL-CIO Executive Council today that returning our economy to health means restoring the basic right to join a union and bargain collectively. And the way to do that is by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

He quoted President Obama saying: '"I don't buy the argument that providing workers with collective bargaining rights somehow weakens the economy or worsens the business environment."

"If you've got workers who have a decent pay and benefits, they also are customers for your business. So let me add to that and say that I have a simple, basic belief, one that we're going to work hard to put into action: If a union is what you want, a union you're entitled to have."