It’s been quite a year for Senator Arlen Specter. This time last year, Specter had changed party affiliation and was well on his way to dropping his allegiance to Pennsylvania small businesses and workers in that his commitment to oppose the job-killing Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA) was quickly becoming invalid.
In 2009, Specter announced his opposition to EFCA saying, “The problems of the recession make this a particularly bad time to enact Employees Free Choice legislation. Employers understandably complain that adding a burden would result in further job losses … I am announcing my decision now because I have consulted with a very large number of interested parties on both sides and I have made up my mind.”
Specter had decided the legislation wasn’t acceptable considering it would result in increased unemployment during an historic recession.
But apparently, Big Labor’s siren song of political support lured Specter away from his promise to his constituents and he openly began to support the legislation he previously opposed stating, “I expect the cloture vote to occur on a modified version of the Employee’s Free Choice legislation … And I will support that cloture vote.”
It was characterized in the press as “a reversal of his previous position … that he would support a procedural vote to bypass a filibuster for a modified version of the ‘card check’ legislation.”
As a result of Specter’s conduct in relation to EFCA and host of other issues, Pennsylvania voters made a decision this week that he had lost their trust and voted against the state’s longest-serving Senator sending him into retirement.
This leads to the question, why is EFCA such a big deal for union bosses that they would coax and cajole a sitting U.S. Senator to change parties then positions on a policy that would result in lost jobs?
The Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act would remove workers’ rights to a secret ballot vote during union-organizing elections and empower a government arbitrator to determine wages and benefits for newly-unionized workplaces in contracts that are binding for at least two years. Businesses across the country – and in Pennsylvania – have said they would simply close their doors or move overseas if EFCA was passed.
Senator Specter was correct that the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act would result in lost jobs. EFCA would cause the loss of 600,000 jobs in the first year alone, with more to come each following year. And while jobs were being lost, the increase in union membership would result in more dues to bosses totaling at least $35 billion over just ten years. Those resources would allow the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka to thank Specter and his friends on Capitol Hill for their support with even more contributions. The entire exercise would enrich “labor leaders” who have been misusing and wasting their organizations’ funds so extensively that their members’ pension programs are going bankrupt.
This is the current state of play for Big Labor and therefore they have few options outside trying to purchase the support of candidates who might not otherwise be able to stand on their own. We are witnessing a similar phenomenon in Arkansas where Big Labor is bankrolling the campaign of Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, while he offers language and posturing on EFCA just as disingenuous and artificial as that of Pennsylvania’s now-retiring senior Senator. Voters are smart enough to understand when legislation is simply bad and beneficial only to special interests.
Office holders and those aspiring to public office are sorely misreading and underestimating the electorate when they assume they can offer misleading and dishonest rhetoric on issues that directly impact voters’ livelihoods, while accepting huge amounts of monetary support from organizations that only stand to gain from policies like the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act.
While Arlen Specter made a decision that – at the time - it made sense to stand with Big Labor; ultimately, the damage done to the integrity of his word sealed his fate in the eyes of the voter. Halter is not in a dissimilar position in that he has not been honest about where he stands on EFCA and the unseemly sums of money being spent on his behalf by labor bosses will catch up with him sooner or later as voters will not stand with someone who refuses to stand with them on critical issues confronting workers and small businesses.
Clearly EFCA is a job killer. And candidates who support EFCA should take note: if you side with Big Labor bosses and against workers and small business owners, the first job lost may be yours.