The Wall Street Journal reports that Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) is testing the waters by suggesting two possible alternative components to the Employee Free Choice Act:

Under a potential compromise on the contentious subject of secret-ballot elections, workers could mail in ballots during union elections instead of the bill’s current provision in which workers would sign cards collected by union organizers. The compromise approach would theoretically preserve privacy and reduce opportunities for coercion by union organizers and employers.

The second change would restrict the use of arbitrators in contract negotiations to situations in which the two sides fail to reach agreement on their last and best offer. The current version of the bill calls for automatic arbitration after 120 days.

To be sure, these two proposals differ from Sections 2 and 3 of the current version of EFCA.  Yet they still suffer from the same significant flaws as the current bill.  Perhaps that is why business interests were so quick to react:

"We continue to stand in support of the right of workers to have a secret ballot and the right to vote on contracts without interference from government bureaucrats," said Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, a business-backed nonprofit that opposes the Employee Free Choice Act,

Senator Specter’s "mail-in" proposal is curious, as it is something that was not included among the many alternative elements suggested by the Senator in his March 24th statement on the Senate floor.  Moreover, earlier reports had Senator Specter’s colleague Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) pushing an expedited time-frame for secret ballot elections as a possible alternative to card-check.

More details are certain to emerge in the coming days, as Democrats continue to try to find some common ground on an alternative bill capable of gathering 60 votes in the Senate.