Tags: arlen | specter | card | check

Specter Wavers on Card Check Opposition

Friday, 22 May 2009 05:16 PM

By David A. Patten

It appears that the reports of card check's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Democrats are increasingly optimistic they'll be able to introduce controversial pro-labor measure into Congress this summer, in part because the opposition of newly minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter appears to be wavering.

CQPolitics.com reports that Specter, D-Pa., has been discussing the labor bill with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, almost from the day he switched parties. Harkin is the lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

Publicly, Specter continues to hold to his position that he's willing to compromise but could not abide card check. Privately, however, he is reportedly beginning to waver.

Card check is euphemistically called the Employee Free Choice Act. The proposal would have workers sign cards indicating whether they want a union, whenever a new workplace considers collective bargaining. The cards would be public documents, thereby eliminating the current system by which workers vote confidentially on whether they wish to be represented by a union.

President Obama has endorsed efforts to strike a compromise over card-check legislation, and Harkin recently told CQPolitics that Specter is "willing to negotiate" on card-check.

Another factor bolstering card check's prospects: The likely issuance this summer of a certificate of election to Democrat Al Franken in his hard-fought contest with former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

Along with Specter's recent flip-flop to the Democrats' side of the aisle, Franken's arrival would give Democrats the 60 votes they need in the Senate to shut off debate and bring an issue to a vote.

Some senators remain staunchly opposed to card check, however. Retiring Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez earlier this week, for example, wrote a column in which he said the bill could cost the nation "millions of jobs" at a time when the faltering economy can ill afford it.

"I escaped the communist oppression of Cuba," Martinez wrote on Politico.com, "and it does not sit well with me to see a bill that eliminates the secret ballot and would impose contracts on workers and private enterprises without their vote or consent.

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