Senators Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin, members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, spoke at the 20th Jackson Lewis Corporate Counsel Conference in Washington, D.C. on May 13. Senator Harkin said at an IAM conference held a few days before that EFCA was his top priority.  We asked Senator Hatch during our breakfast for 225 in-house counsels if Senator Harkin had the votes to make his priority a reality. Senator Hatch’s response was “no.”

Later, over lunch, Senator Harkin agreed with Senator Hatch that the votes for EFCA are simply not there. His candid admission clearly disputes Richard Trumka’s prediction that EFCA would pass if attached to some other piece of legislation.

Nonetheless, as we pointed out at a labor relations break-out session, labor law reform comes in many shapes and sizes. Executive orders, restrictive state laws, provisions of government contracts, new interpretations of well-established rules and regulations, reversal of precedent and potential rulemaking all make for a challenging environment.

Senator Hatch reminded us that unions spent $1 billion in the last election cycle. What does a billion dollars buy? As much as labor can get.