Caroline Kennedy spoke about her late uncle Ted to the AFL-CIO convention on September 14. Most appropriately, the late-Senator Edward M. Kennedy was recognized for his consistent support of Labor over his decades of service.

According to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Labor narrowly missed getting its greatest prize – EFCA – as a result of Senator Kennedy’s battle with cancer. Senator Harkin claims that a “EFCA compromise” was reached in July and was ready for a vote, but Senator Kennedy was too ill to participate in person.

Where are we today with EFCA? The AFL-CIO’s John Sweeney told BNA, “we’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes…” with Senators to gain EFCA’s passage.

Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s legislative director, has spoken of a “compromise” where fast elections and majority sign up recognition under certain circumstances would be appropriate.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis spoke strongly in favor of EFCA during her AFL-CIO convention speech.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who a few weeks ago, said EFCA would not come up this year, told the union convention by video feed that he wants to pass EFCA “swiftly”.

Richard Trumka, citing the need for more aggressive Labor leadership, including the passage of EFCA, has proclaimed that “we need to be a labor movement that stands by our friends, punishes its enemies, and challenges those who, well, can’t seem to decide which side they’re on….”

In addition, there are a handful of Democratic senators who are not sure “which side they’re on,” but covet Labor support, or at least its neutrality, as they stand for re-election.

Then there is the empty Senate seat – from Massachusetts. We don’t know whether an appointed or elected candidate will take Senator Kennedy’s seat. The outcome of that issue in Massachusetts has a direct impact on when EFCA will be considered. Even under the most favorable circumstances, without Senator Kennedy, it is difficult to see how Labor can get to 60 senate votes for EFCA, even in its “lite” variety, and no matter what the “compromise” contains. But whenever Massachusetts again has two senators, EFCA will be ripe for serious consideration…..provided, of course, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) is healthy enough to come to the Senate and vote for EFCA.

“Every vote counts” may never have been more true.