How Many "Democrats" Will Desert Working Families On Employee Free Choice?
I've never met Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor. His voting record is pretty Republican-- the 52nd "most progressive" out of 58 Democrats (and just slightly better than fellow Arkansas reactionary Blanche Lincoln)-- but I never sat down face to face with him (or her). Pryor, however, showed America what he's made of in an interview with Bill Maher for the film Religulous. Watch the one minute clip in which he sums up his performance accurately: "You don't have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate." Yes, he was talking about himself and with a shit-eating grin on his face. He knew, when telling Maher that he believes in a talking snake he was appealing to a sad and politically uneducated electorate, brainwashed by Limbaugh, Coulter and O'Reilly. It's a lot easier to tell them that you, like them, believe in talking snakes than it is to try to educate them.
And probably because of that, both Pryor and Lincoln told the Chamber of Commerce that they are not committed to supporting the Employee Free Choice Act this year. Neither said they would oppose it but neither would commit to supporting it either (though both voted for it in the past).
Even though Lincoln hasn’t officially signaled which way she intends to vote, she may be edging closer to voting against it.
The senator’s campaign staff has been busy making phone calls trying to round up support for her second re-election campaign in anticipation her March 14 fund-raiser with Vice President Joe Biden. At least two times when individuals who were called expressed apprehension about Lincoln’s indecisiveness on EFCA, they were told in response not to worry about that.
Lincoln’s possible new direction makes sense. The co-host committee for her re-election kickoff reads like a virtual laundry list of business executives from industries opposing EFCA. A “no” vote from Lincoln would be major blow to the Democratic leadership and the White House, which strongly supports the legislation.
As for Pryor, after being a co-sponsor in the past, he said he would not attach his name to bill this time around. Pryor believes a compromise bill that both business and labor could agree to should emerge.
In recent days both Obama and Biden have been clear that passing the Employee Free Choice Act is part of their agenda for rebuilding the American middle class, which has been so devastated by decades of Republican activities against unions, activities that are sometimes supported by a small handful of reactionary fake Democrats.
When the House took up the Employee Free Choice early in 2007, it passed 241-185, Every Democrat but two voting in favor, joined by 13 Republicans too embarrassed to vote against working families. And the two "Democrats?" Both are reactionary Blue Dogs, Mississippi's Gene Taylor and Oklahoma's Dan Boren. Both represent incredibly Republican districts and neither has attempted to help their constituents get over their 19th century prejudices. Boren, for example, is abysmal on most issues impacting the lives of working families. In fact, except for his own family ties to the Democratic Party-- his daddy was a Democratic governor and a senator from Oklahoma-- he would certainly be a Republican in name as in deed.
After generations of populism Oklahoma has morphed into one of the furthest right states in the union. Obama only took 34% of the vote there, his second worst showing anywhere (tied with Utah but beaten out by Wyoming... by 1%). And Boren's district gave Obama the exact same percentage-- 34%, less Democratic than the Republican-held districts represented by Mary Fallin or John Sullivan which include, respectively OK City and Tulsa. Boren's district, on the other hand, includes something called "Little Dixie." And that's the part of the district he counts on to split tickets and re-elect him.
It couldn't have surprised anyone that he bragged to his Chamber of Commerce backers the other day that he's opposing the Employee Free Choice Act again this year. I'd like to see unions go further than just hissing and spluttering when they push back against this dyed-in-the-wool enemy of working families-- although SEIU Political Director Jon Youngdahl took a good first step today:
“Rep. Dan Boren chose to turn his back on the needs of struggling Oklahomans-- in this unprecedented economic crisis, nearly one million residents of his state are unemployed, underemployed, or lacking adequate healthcare coverage.
“That’s why we’re surprised Rep. Boren has already pledged to vote against the Employee Free Choice Act before it’s even introduced in Congress. He apparently has some fundamental misconceptions about what the bill actually does.
“Oklahomans would be able to bargain for better wages, benefits, and job security while helping his state’s economy. If the Employee Free Choice Act passes, 900,000 Oklahomans would see a 14% raise-- bringing more than $410,000,000 straight back into the state economy, every year.
“That’s math even Dan Boren can understand.”
I think it's crucial for SEIU and other labor unions to not leave it at that. Unions have contributed over $273,000 to Boren's political career, more than $42,000 after he voted against the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007. It's time for some real action. After all, the battle begins, in the Senate, next week... Tuesday to be precise.