Monday, March 05, 2007

But He's Still A Liberal

For everyone on the left who is dreaming of having President Obama, there's a center-right voter trying to figure out whether this admittedly admirable figure could be a good President. And then, we get moments like this...
With Democrats in control of Congress and seeking to boost a struggling labor movement, national union leaders joined Illinois' two senators at a rally Saturday in Chicago to promote legislation to make it easier for workers to join a union against the wishes of their employers.

"We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). "We may have to wait for the next president to sign it, but we will get this thing done."

...The labor rally followed a vote Thursday in the House, where Democrats, in a nod to organized labor for its help in retaking control of Congress, approved a bill that would take away the right of employers to demand secret balloting by workers before unions could be recognized.

Under the bill, the National Labor Relations Board would certify a union if it wins a majority of cards signed by workers. Currently, the NLRB calls for a secret vote if more than 30 percent of workers say they support a union. In order to win the election, the union must garner the majority of the workers' votes.

Unions argue that change is needed because employers intimidate workers before voting and by legally battling elections for so long that the victories become meaningless.

Should the legislation pass both chambers of Congress, President Bush would almost certainly veto it. The rally was sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which has 100,000 active and retired members.
Please note, that's a government workers union sponsoring the rally -- one where Senator Obama promises to get rid of secret ballots for determining whether workers want a union or not. Jeez, I wonder who's doing the intimidating -- those who want the secret ballot, or those opposed to it? It's pretty clear union organizers feel that that they can do better when they can pressure individual workers into signing cards, rather than having to suffer through the democratic process of an election where people can let their voices be heard without fear of retribution.

The government workers unions are now the most important unions around, basically because they're the only area of major growth for unions today. This legislation would seek to reverse that trend, and Democrats support it for the obvious reason that they're beholden to union money. Mickey Kaus has a point when he says the GOP should make a political stand in order to highlight Senator Obama's decision to remain an old-line liberal...
The idea of requiring a union, without a secret ballot election, if labor organizers can obtain a majority of "cards" from employees seems like both a big idea and a bad idea... If Republicans were smart and confident, wouldn't they make a big deal of this--drag the debate in Congress out to give it more prominence, highlighting Obama's support for this change which (more than any tax cut) would alter the very texture of the economy? Voters--even many socially liberal peacenik voters--traditionally worry that if Dems gain full power they will a) serve their special interests and b) cripple American capitalism in a fit of leftish nostalgia. This bill legitimately triggers both fears.
What's great about this bill is that it should unite the GOP en masse, and the President has promised to veto it. He probably will not need to do so, since Sen. McConnell will lead a filibuster that will stop the bill in the Senate. But it's worth remembering that even a Democratic politician who engages in the audacity of hope may not be too willing to break from old-school liberalism.


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