Labor's Voice for Change (17) March 12, 2009

Obama’s Chief Economic Adviser Opposes
Employee Free Choice Act and Unionization

By Harry Kelber

One day after the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in both the House and Senate, Larry Summers, President Obama’s chief economic adviser, was quoted in a full-page ad in The New York Times as saying: “Another cause of long-term unemployment is unionization.” (March 11, 2009) The ad repeats Summer’s attack on unions, clearly linking it with opposition to EFCA. Here is the paragraph:

“Even President Obama’s chief economic adviser says unionization is a cause of long-term unemployment. The Employee (Free) Forced Choice Act is the last thing our fragile economy needs.”

Did Larry Summers clear his anti-union comments with President Obama? Did Obama give his approval? Clearly, the AFL-CIO must demand that the President publicly rebuke Summers or damage his own credibility.

While President Obama has developed a friendly relationship with top labor leaders, assuring them “a seat at the table,” he has indicated he would like to avoid a bloody battle between employers and organized labor over EFCA, since it could divert his attention from major problems, such as trade, the budget, health care and education. He would like to see a “compromise” on EFCA that would satisfy both business and labor.

Labor Must Use Bold Action to Win EFCA End Game

The AFL-CIO conducted an incredible and praiseworthy campaign by collecting two million signatures to an EFCA petition. Its rallies around the country and its radio and TV ads helped explain the need for this vital legislation to millions of Americans.

But our leaders wrongly anticipated that EFCA would glide to passage on a flood of e-mails. They underestimated the opposition and didn’t prepare to deal with it. We are now in the "end game" that will determine the fate of EFCA. Anti-union employers have vowed to spend whatever millions of dollars it takes to defeat EFCA. However, we have something they can’t match: 16 million union members,

At this stage, our unions must mobilize their members for a variety of “ground actions.” Let’s have 100,000 union men and women descend on Congress so they can see the faces of those who sent them e-mails. Let’s have groups conducting a siege before the office and home of every member of Congress until he or she agrees to vote in favor of EFCA. Let’s have a two-hour work stoppage across the country. Union members can think of other ways to make their point about the Employee Free Choice Act,

If EFCA is really important for the survival of unions, let's show we mean it.

What the AFL-CIO Needs Are New Leaders
With Fresh Ideas and an Inspiring Vision!

Article 18 of “Labor’s Voice for Change” will be posted Tuesday, March 17.

What the AFL-CIO Needs Are New Leaders
With Fresh Ideas and an Inspiring Vision!

We invite officers and members to give their views on these questions on our new rank-and-file web site: