Dems Waver on EFCA, Insist That Empowering Workers Is Unnecessarily "Divisive"

by: David Sirota

Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 12:47


I wish I could say this level of spinelessness is surprising, but the U.S. Senate is a club for jellyfish, so it's totally predictable:

At least six Senators who have voted to move forward with the so-called card-check proposal, including one Republican, now say they are opposed or not sure -- an indication that Senate Democratic leaders are short of the 60 votes they need for approval...

The legislation is divisive and distracting, said Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in an interview Monday. The Democratic lawmaker, who was previously seen as a supporter, said the Senate should focus on creating jobs and improving the U.S. economy. "I have 90,000 Arkansans who need a job, that's my No. 1 priority," she said. The legislation, she said, would be "divisive and we don't need that right now."

Expect this "divisive" talking point to be the meme du jour - it's perfect for lawmakers who desperately want to avoid talking about the substance of the issue, and instead need a process argument to justify their gutlessness. In this case, we're getting the Unity Pony - ie. the claim that at this Very Serious Time of Emergency, we need Bipartisan Broder-esque Unity - and we simply can't afford the "division" that would occur in D.C.'s elite circles if Congress tried to strengthen workers' basic right to form a union. Because, ya know, employers illegally firing workers in more than a quarter of all union elections isn't "divisive."

Same arguments, different issues - but now, with almost 60 Democratic votes in the Senate, and therefore no credible Republican foil to blame legislative failure on.

David Sirota :: Dems Waver on EFCA, Insist That Empowering Workers Is Unnecessarily "Divisive"

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It's only divisive to people like Blanch (4.00 / 4)
...because she is already in a powerful union backed by K-Street and the cash the goes with it.

I wonder how many Arkansasans are going to bed hungry or don't have health benefits or are training somebody to take over their job in India. A whole lot more than 90,000 I bet.

What a bunch of fucking assholes.


David Sirota on MSNBC! (4.00 / 3)
Democrats have failed to support organized labor so many times, in so many ways, and for so long that I have absolutely no more thoughts about it, and couldn't even stand to think about it any more if I almost had another thought... so the only glimmer that passed across my weary brain when I read this post was...

It would be a really good thing if David Sirota had a regular slot on MSNBC.

The progressive blogosphere needs some amplification, or all our little voices will always be washed away by the great flood of bullshit that the corporate media constantly produce.

So...

It would be a really good thing if David Sirota had a regular slot on MSNBC.


[ Parent ]
Isn't It Divisive To TALK Divisively? (4.00 / 4)
I mean, wasn't that the argument on everything else under the sun until just 5 minutes ago?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Suggestion (4.00 / 8)
Rally for EFCA. Wall Street, May 1.

Get a million or so folks down there who look like they mean business.

The symbolism of Mayday will not be lost on the bankers-or the Senators they bankroll, I'll bet.



Yes. I'm booking my ticket. I'm sick of D.C. protests (4.00 / 1)
We need to go to where the rulers really are.


[ Parent ]
Leaving policy decisions (4.00 / 1)
up to people that think that the health of the economy, and the availability of jobs, is unrelated to whether those with jobs have decent pay, benefits, and workplace protections is a frightening proposition.

Every time I hear someone suggest that certain people don't deserve the franchise because they cannot be trusted to wield it responsibly, or that important decisions must be left up to elites, because they masses are too ignorant, I remember that the people who will supposedly save us are people like Lincoln.

Times like these make me think that we could hold a lottery and find better members of Congress than we do under our present system.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


Wall-Mart, Anyone? (4.00 / 4)
     Bottom line:  Wal-Mart probably implicity threatened her.  And saddenly, you would think a Senator from Arkansas--who definitely knows the exploitation of Wall-Mart workers first-hand--would have the courage to stand up to them.  But, obviously not. . .

She's a conservative (4.00 / 1)

 She probably sees the exploitation of working people as a GOOD thing.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
yes it divides (4.00 / 9)
the capitalists from their loot

Just to clarify: (0.00 / 0)
Digging in your heels and refusing to cooperate in any way, shape, or form = not divisive.

Suggesting that someone compromise rather than digging in their heels and refusing to cooperate in any way, shape, or form = divisive.


[ Parent ]
We could see this coming a mile away (4.00 / 1)
This is going to be pushed off till the fall, and then beyond.

Obama deserves blame, too, for failing to make it a priority. He didn't even talk about it in his address to Congress.


Huh? (0.00 / 0)
The house bill is being introduced today... The president has said repeatedly that he will fight to get it passed and is a priority for his administration...  He wants it passed by the end of the year, like health care...

He didn't bring it up at the non-state-of the union 'cos it's a complicated issue that needs more selling time than a sentence in front of the joint session of congress...

I think they are rope-a-doping this... letting the opposition get all hot and bothered about secret ballots, then come in with a card check modification that leaves the defense with nothing to stand on....

The president does need to get on this... he's about the only one that can push this through, but if you haven't noticed, he's been kindof busy lately...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
can you elaborate a bit on the possible modification? (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
Some tidbits from the WSJ article.... (4.00 / 1)
Like modifying the card to say specifically that signing it is for joining a union (Duh! But, I guess the guys who think that unions are "thugs" feel it is necessary or something)...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Oh, please (0.00 / 0)
It's quite obvious he's not making a priority.

He only brings it up in front of union audiences, or when asked.  


[ Parent ]
Who do you want him to? (4.00 / 3)
Make an impromptu speech at 2pm about a bill that isn't even before Congress yet when the public's minds are focused on the economy?

No, it's quite obvious he IS making it a priority or he wouldn't have pushed to put a rabidly pro-EFCA Congresswoman into the job of Secretary of Labor.  


[ Parent ]
I Agree He's Not Making It A Priority (4.00 / 2)
But I'm less certain than you about what this signifies.  Labor is a hell of a lot stronger than other progressive forces, so I think it's at least plausible that he's not making a bigger target out of it while labor does its thing in a more low-profile way.

There is certainly a disturbing pattern out there on other issues, but I'm just not certain it applies here.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Oh double please. (0.00 / 0)
This was never a priority of his except to get union members to do grunt work for his campaign.  We need a Labor Party.

[ Parent ]
and you Labor Party (0.00 / 0)
is going to gain a majority how exactly?

[ Parent ]
Bull (4.00 / 1)
he has made this a priority and I never expected him to make his support for it so clear.

It's so easy for a Senator from Arkansas to oppose the President, it's the state the Democrats have been losing ground in the fastest. Obama lost Arkansas by 20% meaning Wal-Mart has more influence than the President.


[ Parent ]
Bull is right 100%, unfortunately (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Its not fair to lay this on Obama (0.00 / 0)
He's publicly stated his support many times for EFCA...and has indicated its critical to getting our economy back on track. There are leaders of congress like, I don't know, Harry Reid, who could probably do a little more to keep democratic senators in check. Its not the job of the president to be the whip of a congressional caucus.  

[ Parent ]
60 Votes (4.00 / 2)
60 votes are needed for cloture; not to pass the law.  Perhaps some will be willing to vote for cloture (let there be an "up or down" vote) and then vote "no."  

This is a once in a generation opportunity for real reform.  


Not that easy (0.00 / 0)
Wal-Mart and co. can afford legislative experts. They won't forgive anybody who votes for cloture, and Congress knows this. A lot of people are assessing whether they fear Wal-Mart or the unions more.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
No one said it will be easy (0.00 / 0)
But we shouldn't do their work for them by accepting the idea that it takes 60 votes to pass.  Democrats who say can't vote for it must be pressed not to join the Republicans in preventing a majority vote (which would be really ironic as they pretend to support majoritarianism for workers.)

There are a lot of Democrats out there with an interest in conflating the votes needed for cloture or passage.  The more this issue is confused, the easier it is for them to avoid accountability for their actions.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
This doesn't surprise me (4.00 / 3)
I was talking to some Democratic leaders in Northern New Jersey and they were upset because they were trying to pressure Menendez, Lautenberg and Bill Pascrell into shutting down the legislation to no avail.

That's right, Democrats trying to pressure Democratic legislators to oppose EFCA.

I was amazed because I couldn't understand how Democratic organizations would try to do this IN NEW JERSEY...then I realized who these Democratic leaders were. (Think about where New Jersey is and that should give you a clue)

I think we need to look down below the Senate and House on this one...there are Democrats on the ground opposed to this. This is probably true in Arkansas where many Democratic leaders are aligned with Wal-Mart.

This isn't healthcare or a stimulus package. This is easy to spin as a negative. Unions are as easy targets in many parts of the country. Where are the commercials running in Arkansas and Nebraska talking about what a great piece of legislation EFCA is and how it can help the middle class?  


re (0.00 / 0)
This isn't healthcare or a stimulus package. This is easy to spin as a negative.

can't they "spin" it as a financial reform?

I put quotation marks because EFCA doesn't sound like spin to me, but genuine financial reform


[ Parent ]
Here's how it's being spun on the ground (4.00 / 1)
"EFCA would eliminate secret ballots and open up the possibily for employees being coerced by unions"

"If your co-workers decide to join a union, they can force you to do it to" (contrary to opinion, there are people who don't want to join a union, so this argument can work)

"This will cost jobs because companies would have to let more people go to meet the demands of labor unions and in this bad economic time, that is not good"

I don't want to seem like I'm anti-EFCA, I'm not...if I was to make my top 10 pleasant surprises of President Obama, somewhere in the top 3 is his explicit support for EFCA. I say that because where I come from, there are many DEMOCRATS opposed to it and if we knew their arguments, we can counter them and push the public to our side. I'm not sure the public really knows what this is yet.


[ Parent ]
re (0.00 / 0)
This isn't healthcare or a stimulus package. This is easy to spin as a negative.

can't they "spin" it as a financial reform?

I put quotation marks because EFCA doesn't sound like spin to me, but genuine financial reform


[ Parent ]
union card check and google (0.00 / 0)
I notice that if you type "union card check" into google you get almost entirely anti-union results.


New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Where's the "Pope of Hope" on this 'reassessment'? (0.00 / 0)
I'm pretty sure he said something or other about getting EFCA passed, when he was trying to secure our votes last year. (Google it).

So now the fucker's backing away?

Well the fact that I am not surprised does NOT Mean I am not outraged, furious, glass-eatingly angry at the callow cowardly sumbitch...


Blance Lincoln is a feculent slag (0.00 / 0)
the Senator from Sam Walton.


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