The wing nuts speaking for Corporate America are getting--well, wing nuttier. Their anti-worker, anti-union lies and distortions about the Employee Free Choice Act have reached just plain bizarre levels.
Long before the nation's latest economic troubles, some workers at NG Jensen, a custom brokerage firm on the Washington side of the Canadian border, set their sights on an economic stimulus plan--a union. Their organizing campaign barely got off the ground before it was shot down by management intimidation.
When asked, Sen. Michael Bennet either "doesn't know" if he supports The Employee Free Choice Act or "hasn't decided" yet. Truly amazing. Bennet, who, you'll recall, was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO) to replace Sen. Salazar, hasn't had to be accountable to the people of Colorado so I guess doesn't see any reason to ruffle any feathers by actually taking a stand on one of the most important pieces of legislation he's likely to vote on in the coming year.
Great work by Darcy and CO-06 challenger David Canter for applying pressure on Bennet and the entire Colorado congressional delegation to come out strongly and vocally in support of The Employee Free Choice Act.
The thing is, this really shouldn't be difficult or controversial. This is, as Darcy says, about the basic rights of workers to organize. EFCA is a bill that passed the House in 2005 and 2007 on a bi-partisan basis. While it came up short of a filibuster-proof super majority in the Senate in 2007, cloture garnered the votes of every single Democrat in the Senate (including Landrieu, Lincoln, Pryor and, yes, Salazar) plus both Independents and even Arlen Specter. Add to that the fact that during his run for the US Senate last year, freshman Colorado Sen. Mark Udall had been a co-sponsor of EFCA in the House, promised to support it as a Senator, and won by 11% despite the fact that EFCA foes ran ads targeting Udall as someone who would "take the secret ballot away."
Yet even knowing all of this, Bennet can't quite bring himself to take a stand on EFCA and now even Udall is wavering. The difference between 2007 and 2009, of course, is that the President supports it now, so there's actually a possibility of its getting passed. All the more reason to put the pressure on.
In the summer of 1981, just months into his Presidency, Ronald Reagan destroyed the air traffic controllers' union, PATCO, in a lengthy and bitter strike. It was a seminal moment in American economic history though it wasn't perhaps clear at the time. A union had been broken but PATCO wasn't just any union, it was a white collar union more like a guild or a professional association. Its members were part of the middle class and breaking a union of this type would foreshadow the assault on American labor waged by conservatives who while professing to love "people" fail to mention how much they hate workers.
The minimum wage in America reached its high point in the late 1960s in terms of real buying power, and though it stagnated in the 1970s as inflation hit the minimum wage thereafter went into a deep and steady free fall of more than 29% decline in buying power under Reagan during the 1980s. Even as late as 1980, the minimum wage was on a par with the poverty level. By 1990, the minimum wage was 30% below the poverty level. Clinton would bring a measure of relief but even then by 2001 when he left office, in real terms, the minimum wage was worth 21.4% less.
More than ten million Americans earn the minimum wage and contrary to Republican propaganda most are not teenagers. In fact only 28% of minimum wage earners are teenagers, the single largest category is single mothers (34%) followed by men as head of household. But even beyond this is the stark reality that the legacy of the Reagan Revolution is a decline in real wages and a rise in social inequality. That's the legacy of conservatism. For most Americans, it is a record of failure.
Last fall, conservatives partnered with business to spend $100 million in Senate elections "zeroing in on the labor-backed legislation that easily passed the House last year but was blocked in the Senate because its allies couldn't get the 60 votes needed for cloture." While Democrats won most of the targeted races (only Maine's Susan Collins survived from the original list), their efforts sent a shiver down the Senate's spine.
The Employee Free Choice Act remains sidelined today. During the recent District work period, unions all over the country kicked off a new effort to bring EFCA back to the forefront. The press conference in these videos was held in Chicago, a preshow, as it were, for the big event at Plumbers Hall.