It now appears that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will not be passed in the 111th Congress. According to the official excuse given by the Democrats, it lacks the necessary votes to “invoke cloture.” As Socialist Appeal explained in the past, big business clearly does not want the bill to pass, as evidenced by the huge propaganda campaign that they have financed. We also pointed out that the bosses’ “concerns” have absolutely nothing to do with any abstract concern for “democracy,” least of all the democratic rights of the workers, and everything to do with the fear of a resurgent labor movement.
The media say that Republicans are the ones to blame for blocking EFCA. They argue that support for the bill is “virtually split along party lines,” and they initially tried to reduce the stonewalling of the bill to one man, Arlen Specter, a now ex-Republican from Pennsylvania. Needless to say, the inability of the Democrats to pass this bill, which was their central selling point to the membership of many unions, is not simply due to one man “on the opposite side of the aisle,” especially after his defection from that “side of the aisle” to join the Democrats. Actually, the reason EFCA has not yet passed and the reason why Arlen Specter, Joe Lieberman, and countless others can “switch sides” with such ease is because both parties are on the same side: the bosses’ side.
Several Democrats have come out against the bill. Along with Dianne Feinstein, Senator from California, and Larry Summers, the Director of Obama’s National Economic Council, George McGovern, the former liberal Democratic presidential candidate, recently wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal against EFCA and has even produced political advertisements against its passage, parroting the arguments of business leaders about supposed infringements on workers’ democratic rights: “It’s hard to believe that any politician would agree to a law denying millions of employees the right to a private vote.” Anyone that has read our previous article on the subject of EFCA can see right through these kinds of “arguments,” which are nothing more than cover for the pro-boss perspectives of their purveyors.
Lincoln Blanche, a Democrat from Arkansas, has also come out against EFCA. In response, Ricky Belk, the secretary treasurer of the Arkansas AFL-CIO, stated that he was not at all surprised by this development, but nonetheless found the news “disappointing.” As reported on OpenSecrets.org, one of the top contributors to Blanche’s last election was Wal-Mart, so it’s no surprise that she has come out against card-check. But some of her other contributors may surprise some. The Arkansas AFL-CIO, which, as pointed out above, found the news unsurprising, nonetheless contributed $12,500 to her campaign. She also received $10,000 each from the Boilermakers, Laborers, SEIU, UFCW, UTU, APWU, and CWA. Many rank-and-file union members are probably asking themselves why their leaders are spending their dues money on anti-union candidates like Blanche.
Sadly, this is not simply an isolated case. The unions nationally contributed $450 million in the last election to the Democratic Party, and what do their members have to show for it? More job losses, continued loss of pay, no universal health care, bailouts for the bosses, and now, the final nail in the “hope” coffin seems to have been driven. A central point for the union support of the Democrats in the 2008 elections, EFCA, appears to have been an empty promise.
Enough is enough! With the addition of Specter, the Democrats now have a 60-40 majority in the Senate. Obama and the Democrats can pass anything that they want. The Democrats have no excuses left! It is more important than ever for workers, particularly those in unions, to mobilize our forces to demand the immediate passage of EFCA. This must be combined with a massive campaign to organize the unorganized, with the widest possible rank-and-file participation, both in the organizing drives and in the building of truly participatory, democratic unions in their wake.
Ricky Belk is correct when he says that Blanche’s decision should not surprise us. So the question is: “Why does the current labor leadership continue to support these anti-union, pro-boss candidates?” These leaders must stop sending their members’ dues into the bottomless pit of the Democrats and make a clean break with both of the bosses’ political parties. Just imagine if, instead of depositing $450 million dollars into the pockets of the pro-business Democrats, labor flexed its muscles and put its resources toward building a real alternative for the working class, a mass party of labor.
A mass labor party based on the unions would not be a mere “third party,” it would be a real challenge to “Republicratic” rule. Such a party could fight to pass EFCA, for universal health care, launch a massive program of public works, nationalize the commanding heights of the economy under workers’ control, and more. None of this is possible as long as labor remains tied to the Democrats.