In Wake Of Senate Compromise, EFCA Co-Sponsor Sestak Hits Specter

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Depending on whom you ask, the news that Senate Democrats have agreed to scrap card check from the Employee Free Choice Act is an acceptable compromise, or a knife in the labor movement’s back, or both. But for Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), it’s also an opportunity to remind voters of Sen. Arlen Specter’s role in precipitating the compromise in the first place.

“As an original co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, I strongly support the legislation as it was originally written,” says Sestak. “Arlen Specter, however, announced that he not only opposed Employee Free Choice, but would prevent it from coming to a fair up-or-down vote.”

“Arlen will have to explain to working families across Pennsylvania why he took the side of every Senate Republican to oppose this legislation as originally written.”

Since becoming a Democrat, Specter has softened on EFCA considerably. Last month, he told a crowd of union organizers, “I think you’ll be satisfied with my vote on this issue on union organizing and on first contract just like you’ve been satisfied with the 22 times I voted for Davis Bacon.”

But in his last days and weeks as a Republican–and in his first days as a Democrat–Specter, a former EFCA co-sponsor himself, sang a remarkably different tune. Facing a primary challenge from conservative Pat Toomey, Specter said he would oppose both EFCA, and a filibuster on the legislation. The move was a big blow to organized labor–one some in that movement won’t soon forget.

You can read Sestak’s full statement below the fold.

As an original co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, I strongly support the legislation as it was originally written. Last year I also co-sponsored and voted for the legislation, because American families are hurting. Here are the facts: President George W. Bush’s own National Labor Relations Board found that 50% of employers illegally threatened to close the office or plant when workers tried to organize, and 32% fired workers who were actively supporting unionization. In addition, 40% of the time when a vote to unionize is successful, a contract is never achieved between the employer and workers.

Arlen Specter, however, announced that he not only opposed Employee Free Choice, but would prevent it from coming to a fair up-or-down vote. Arlen will have to explain to working families across Pennsylvania why he took the side of every Senate Republican to oppose this legislation as originally written.

However, I have consistently stated that I would support a compromise if the unions agreed. If fact, I met with union leaders several months ago on legislation for their consideration regarding a possible compromise. If such an agreement will prevent Arlen Specter from blocking labor law reform, and the unions are happy with it, then I can support it.

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