Wednesday, March 04, 2009 

Is Lincoln shifting on EFCA?

Is Lincoln shifting on EFCA?

By David J. SandersColumnist, Stephens Media
March 4, 2009

With tensions mounting in Washington as business and labor groups increase pressure on Arkansas’ two U.S. senators in anticipation of vote on the Employee Free Choice Act, there are subtle hints that Sen. Blanche Lincoln may be preparing to vote “no.”

And, Arkansas’ lawmakers may soon enter the fray by weighing in on the controversial legislation in an attempt to turn up the heat on the state’s congressional delegation.

If passed, EFCA, also known as “card check,” would allow union officials to bypass existing laws governing the process of how and when a union can be established, and allow them to set up a union by simply obtaining signatures from a majority of workers on authorization cards.

Supporters contend the current labor law, which requires a secret ballot vote by workers to form a union, is outdated. Opponents counter that changing the law would open the door for union officials to coerce workers into signing the cards and, in turn, lead to mass unionization of the country’s businesses and industries.

In spite of Arkansas’ right-to-work status and its insignificant union membership, Sens. Mark Pryor and Lincoln have emerged as two of the swing votes that will either help or hinder Majority Leader Harry Reid’s effort to reach the 60 votes needed for passage. Reid and other Democratic leaders promised labor unions quick action on the EFCA, but that could be in jeopardy.

Even though Lincoln hasn’t officially signaled which way she intends to vote, she may be edging closer to voting against it.

The senator’s campaign staff has been busy making phone calls trying to round up support for her second re-election campaign in anticipation her March 14 fund-raiser with Vice President Joe Biden. At least two times when individuals who were called expressed apprehension about Lincoln’s indecisiveness on EFCA, they were told in response not to worry about that.

Lincoln’s possible new direction makes sense. The co-host committee for her re-election kickoff reads like a virtual laundry list of business executives from industries opposing EFCA. A “no” vote from Lincoln would be major blow to the Democratic leadership and the White House, which strongly supports the legislation.

As for Pryor, after being a co-sponsor in the past, he said would not attach his name to bill this time around. Pryor believes a compromise bill that both business and labor could agree to should emerge.

While Lincoln and Pryor are publicly uncommitted, members of the state House of Representatives will soon have an opportunity to go on the record.

State Rep. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, will file a resolution calling on his colleagues to oppose “‘Card Check’ and Forced, Compulsory Binding Arbitration in Union Recognition Elections,” as stated in the title.

Even though the resolution wouldn’t require Gov. Mike Beebe’s signature, don’t look for the governor to mirror Washington Democrats. Beebe’s position, according to his spokesman, is that “now is not the time to address the card check issue given the current state of the American economy.”

King, the Republican leader in the House, has all of his GOP lawmakers on board, but he also has 12 Democratic co-sponsors for his toughly worded resolution. If passed by the House, the resolution would provide Lincoln more needed cover from her Democratic leadership and out-of-state unions. And, coming out against EFCA also could help her to fend off a potentially strong Republican opponent – something she likely has thought about.

Powered by Blogger