Politico’s 44 blog quotes a piece by the Atlantic’s Molly Ball, highlighting AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s recent assertion that organized labor has not given up on the Employee Free Choice Act. Trumka tells Ball that the card-check legislation to facilitate private sector unionization will be enacted if President Obama is re-elected:
I note that Trumka hasn’t mentioned card check, or as he prefers to call it, "labor law reform." But he denies the union has given up on that priority.
"Never. You’ll see it," he says. "That’s within the next term." How is that possible, without a Democratic House of Representatives or 60 votes in the Senate? Trumka smiles. His eyes twinkle.
"There’s another election between now and then," he says. And the AFL-CIO isn’t going anywhere.
It is hard to view Trumka’s statement — about a bill he didn’t even think to bring up himself during a wide-raging interview about the 2012 election — as anything more than a political rallying cry to his troops on the way to the polls. In 2008, then Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), an original co-sponsor of the Act, proclaimed:
We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s not a matter of if—it’s a matter of when. We may have to wait for the next President to sign it, but we will get this thing done.
Soon after "the next President" was elected, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, including a Senate super-majority, and were unable to overcome bipartisan opposition to the bill. Labor leaders subsequently pushed a number of compromise efforts and alternative approaches — none of which ultimately gained any traction. The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein pointed out today on Twitter that Trumka’s 2012 boast echoes similar predictions from cycles past — most recently before the 2010 elections. But not only did all of the AFL-CIO’s 2008-2010 political activity not succeed in passing EFCA in the 110th Congress, it helped elect the 111th — in a wave election which created a significant Republican opposition in the House. Anything can happen in elections, but if 60 Senate seats and a House majority was not enough to pass EFCA in the 110th Congress, it is not very likely that the bill’s prospects will fare much better in the 113th — or even 114th.