Sen. Arlen Specter, long the most closely-watched man in America when it comes to labor law reform, today embraced his latest role: as a passionate Democrat declaring that a rejiggered Employee Free Choice Act will pass this year.
An hour before President Obama appeared at the AFL-CIO convention here to reaffirm his support for bill, Specter told hundreds of cheering union officials that by year's end Congress would pass labor law legislation that "will be totally satisfactory to labor."
After his speech, Specter detailed the revised bill he has been crafting with Senate Democrats, the rough outlines of which have been trickling out for weeks. The revised measure would not include the most controversial provision -- allowing workers to organize by getting their co-workers to sign pro-union cards, instead of having to hold secret-ballot elections in the workplace. Unions argue that such elections are unfairly dominated by employer threats and intimidation, but the provision to drop the secret-ballot election has proved highly unpopular with conservative Senate Democrats. ...
Specter tells AFL-CIO he backs organizing bill: AP
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter took another step in his political transformation on Tuesday, telling hundreds of labor activists that he will support legislation that would make it easier to form unions.
In a speech to the AFL-CIO convention, Specter also boldly predicted a compromise version of the bill would be passed in Congress this year. The bill has been stalled for months under withering attack from business groups and a lack of support from several moderate Democrats.
"We have pounded out an employees' choice bill which will meet labor's objectives," Specter told cheering union delegates.
Specter's assurance was a reversal from his stance earlier this year, when he declared on the Senate floor that he could not vote for the Employee Free Choice Act.
Since then, Specter switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party, giving Democrats a 60-vote majority in the Senate.
Facing a strong primary challenge from Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, Specter is counting on union support to help him hold onto his seat. Sestak is not speaking at the convention.
Specter spoke just hours before President Barack Obama addressed the delegates. Later Tuesday, Obama was to attend a fundraiser for Specter in Philadelphia, where he was expected to tell donors how crucial Specter is for pushing through the White House agenda. ...
Comment: Well he was against labor while he was a Republican, but now that he's a Democrat he's for labor...sure...I believe you... both Specter and Labor have done wonders for the Pennsylvania economy.