At the AFL-CIO Executive Board meeting in Miami, President Obama used a recorded video to go on record again with his support for EFCA, telling union leaders Tuesday that the controversial legislation would pass. At the same time, he sent a clear signal reaffirming his support of the bill and its passage, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis are also in attendance at the meeting in Miami. This is another clear indication of the support and influence of organized labor in the new administration.
Influence of Unions Extending Beyond Labor Policy
"We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act," President Obama told more than 100
top labor officials in a closed-door meeting at the labor federation's winter
gathering in Miami, according to people at the meeting.
The bill would make it easier for unions to recruit workers because it would let them join unions simply by signing cards rather than through secret-ballot elections in
which companies can campaign against the union. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations have been campaigning against the legislation.
The president's remarks were taped on Feb. 20, according to a White
House spokesman. Following his remarks, AFL-CIO officials held a meeting
with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
The Employee Free Choice Act is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks in the Senate.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in an interview that to help get the bill
through Congress, it could be amended in the Senate, where support is narrower,
before it reaches the House. "We wouldn't be surprised if there were attempts to
amend the bill," he said.
Organized labor plans to mobilize workers in states where support is weakest among Democratic lawmakers, lobby lawmakers directly and get companies that support the bill to endorse it publicly. Labor leaders didn't name companies targeted in this effort.
Business groups say they will intensify their lobbying against the bill as it is introduced. Randel Johnson, vice president of labor policy for the Chamber of Commerce, said the group will focus its heaviest lobbying efforts on senators in about seven states, and that an endorsement of the bill by a small number of companies
"would not affect the political dynamic," because employer opposition to the
bill is "overwhelming."
Also mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article, the growing influence of organized labor on governmental policy decisions. In a foray outside their normal areas of representing employees in workplace matters and for purposes of collective bargaining, the AFL-CIO urged the federal government to nationalize banks that are receiving TARP funds and other assistance from the government.
Separately, on Wednesday, the AFL-CIO is expected to ask the administration.
to take a controlling stake in banks that receive government funding and a more
active role in restructuring their balance sheets. "We believe the debate over
nationalization is delaying the inevitable bank restructuring, which is
something our economy cannot afford," reads a draft of an AFL-CIO statement.
It is the first time the labor group has advocated such a policy, said
Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Mr. Trumka, a member of the
White House Economic Recovery Advisory Board, said government control would be