Washington Babylon — July 17, 2009, 9:20 am

Democrats Weaken Key Bill Backed By Unions

I have a story in the current issue of the magazine about the corporate campaign to kill the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize workers. The story noted that President Obama and many congressional Democrats were not actively seeking passage of the bill (and some key figures have said they will oppose it), and predicted that it would need to be watered down before it had any chance of success.

That’s precisely what looks to be happening, as reported today in the New York Times:

A half-dozen senators friendly to labor have decided to drop a central provision of a bill that would have made it easier to organize workers.

The so-called card-check provision — which senators decided to scrap to help secure a filibuster-proof 60 votes — would have required employers to recognize a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted a union. Currently, employers can insist on a secret-ballot election, a higher hurdle for unions.

The abandonment of card check was another example of the power of moderate Democrats to constrain their party’s more liberal legislative efforts. Though the Democrats have a 60-40 vote advantage in the Senate, and President Obama supports the measure, several moderate Democrats opposed the card-check provision as undemocratic.

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I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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