Back in August, AFL-CIO President (then Treasurer-Secretary) Richard Trumka told a webchat audience that efforts to pass the Employee Free Choice Act would probably not advance any further until after Congress was through with healthcare reform. As the debate over the healthcare legislation soldiers on, Tuesday’s Politico noted "For labor, there’s always next year":
To be sure, health care reform has been a goal of union leaders for a long time, and they are still working with Congress to win passage. But labor’s top priority — passage of the Employee Free Choice Act — was in trouble almost the moment the Democrats were sworn in, stalled by the unexpectedly long effort to fill their filibuster-proof Senate roster.
First, labor advocates had to wait until the contested Senate race in Minnesota was settled and Democrat Al Franken was seated. Then the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) caused further delay.
Backers of the bill are hoping it will re-emerge as a congressional priority once health care moves from center stage. But even then, it’s unclear whether Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has been able to hash out language acceptable to the moderates and conservatives in his caucus — a task made all the more difficult by the looming midterm elections.
Still, labor advocates remain hopeful.
There has been nothing reported about specific conversations on alternative approaches to the bill since September, but President Trumka remains committed to resuming the push in 2010, as he expressed during another webchat on Tuesday.