Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chief sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, has a warning
for Democratic foes of his flagship legislation: Work with me in earnest on a compromise, or I'll put the bill on the Senate floor and you can vote your conscience.
That may not sound like a grave threat, but it may well be. Two of the bills main skeptics--Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)--face re-election next year, and both, for different reasons, may ultimately need union support to prevail. Specter, who tacked to the right and came out against EFCA before becoming a Democrat, is facing pressure from the Democratic base and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA)
to move left or face a primary challenge.
And at least one high level union official has suggested that if Lincoln doesn't come around and support an EFCA compromise, she may face a green party challenger, in addition to a Republican challenger, in the general election.
Specter, who's been feeling the heat, has said that he thinks the prospects for compromise are likely, while Lincoln still says she opposes EFCA's so-called "binding arbitration" section--one of the bill's less-controversial measures.