At first, this report from the Las Vegas Sun sounds as though conservatives have mostly won the fight against Big Labor to keep the Obama administration from stripping the secret ballot from organizing elections. They pushed hard on ObamaCare and appear to have lost that battle. No one in Congress has touched the Card Check bill as people grow more angry over employment losses. Unions themselves have slipped in standing with the American electorate to their lowest level of support ever recorded. With their political power waning, conservatives have focused more on the ObamaCare debate and the lack of action by Democrats on the economy.
However, deeper within this report lies a new strategy by the unions to use the latter to get its Card Check legislation out of Congress (emphasis mine):
Still, those moves don’t easily lend themselves to a campaign mailer or political rhetoric. Even key parts of the economic stimulus package, such as tax credits and unemployment assistance, don’t pack the populist punch of health care or labor law reform.
“Saving jobs is invisible,” said Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “You need an accomplishment that is clear. No matter what unions try to do, their members and the friends of their members will be demobilized.
“That’s why something like health care is so important. People will say, ‘What have you done for me?’ And the answer is, ‘Nothing or not much.’ ”
On labor law, Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s legislative director, said the union would try to enlist moderate Republicans but acknowledged the difficulty of achieving a bipartisan bill. He said the federation might consider “other tactics,” meaning the card-check legislation or key parts of it could be placed into a larger jobs bill this year.
Perhaps the big surprise here is that the Democrats didn’t think to attach it to Porkulus. They only had 58 Senate votes at the time, as Al Franken didn’t get seated until June, but they perhaps figured they could get enough votes to get it out of the Senate on its own. Despite having 60 votes, though, the Democrats never made the attempt as they wound up tying themselves in knots to get all 60 votes to support ObamaCare.
If Harry Reid introduces Card Check as a rider on another bill, it has to be somewhat germane to the core legislation. That makes the upcoming second stimulus bill — what Democrats insist on calling a “jobs bill” to avoid admitting that Porkulus flopped — the most likely target for such a strategy. Republicans and conservatives need to keep a sharp eye on the bill as it passes through committees in both chambers to ensure that Card Check doesn’t end up in an obscure amendment, especially its waiver of secret balloting and the government arbitration clauses that would wreck American businesses.