EFCA’s death took place last week in Arkansas. Exactly 10,407 voters killed it — the margin of victory incumbent Blanche Lincoln gained over union-backed Bill Halter in Arkansas’s Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate.
Lincoln early on expressed serious concerns over EFCA. Labor decided to defeat her (to make an example of her) by spending $10 million in three months to deny her a run in November against a Republican with a 20 point advantage in the polls.
The SEIU and AFSCME, in particular, wanted to warn their political “allies” that having paid the piper, they expected to call the tune. Any politician who accepted union support would suffer Labor’s wrath if he or she didn’t dance to it. Instead, Senator Lincoln, with the support of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, showed other EFCA opponents, like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), that Labor can be beat.
But Lincoln’s victory is still a cautionary tale. Labor has clearly demonstrated that any position an elected official takes with which it disagrees will be paid for at a high price. Not only did Senator Lincoln have to endure a bruising and costly primary fight, but she will be denied Labor’s support in November. If the Republican candidate defeats an incumbent, moderate Democrat in Arkansas, Labor will take “credit” for her ultimate demise. The message: Labor may lose a fight in order to make sure the politician loses the war. What politician likes those odds?
Consider, too, that the Administration must now make nice to Labor after its “10 million fight down the toilet” remark. Détente began on June 10, according to the Huffington Post, over coffee, soda, and water at the weekly White House/AFL-CIO meeting. The Administration might seek to follow up on this overture by lending support to passage of the First Responder bill, from which the SEIU and AFSCME would surely benefit in the form of new members (read: new dues). If you are not familiar with the bill, you should be, especially if you are concerned with the runaway costs of public sector union contracts.
In the private sector, there are Craig Becker and the Labor Board. Few noticed that last week the Board issued a notice asking for input on how to conduct electronic or Internet-based voting. The National Mediation Board has employed these alternate processes since 2007 under the Railway Labor Act. If the NLRB goes down a similar path, the actual timeframe for an election could be about 14 days, instead of 42.
How does that happen? Look at the RLA procedures. About two weeks into the election process, the NMB notifies all voters how to vote — effective immediately! Even though the “polls” do not close for another few weeks, the employer must assume an employee may vote at once, effectively shattering the election campaign cycle. Don’t think for a minute the NLRB does not appreciate that.
So EFCA might be dead, but if the recipients of Labor’s largesse want its continued political support, a way will be found very soon — perhaps over coffee, water, and soda at the White House. A truly “transparent” Administration would let us in on the meetings. I would not bet 10 million bucks on it happening, though.