Labor and the Left React to Sen. Arlen Specter’s Announcement

Regarding Senator Arlen Specter’s (R-PA) surprising announcement earlier that he will oppose cloture and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, the Huffington Post‘s Sam Stein reports:

Labor officials are incredibly distraught and, in some cases incredulous, noting the Specter co-sponsored the bill in 2003 and voted for cloture just last year. But while it is a setback for the legislation’s chances, Democrats are not conceding defeat. According to the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared after Specter’s speech that "He’s not the only Republican who has indicated a willingness to consider something being done… He’s not the only suspect."

In The Atlantic, Marc Aimbinder writes that Specter’s announcement did not close the door on EFCA for good:

By 2010, regardless of whether Specter is re-elected, Democrats will (probably) have another shot at card check, and here Specter is indicating a political compromise: give me the cover for two years, and I’ll give you the 60th vote in 2010. Of course, if the economy IS in recovery by then, the urgency to pass pro-labor legislation might be less acute.

SEIU President Andy Stern released a statement initially suggesting Sen. Specter is a hypocrite, but ultimately striking a more conciliatory tone:

It’s simple: If you support democracy, you should support the right to debate legislation that could improve the lives of millions of working Americans, pump $49 billion into the economy at a time when we desperately need it, and that’s supported by the vast majority of the public.

We look forward to working with Sen. Specter and the rest of the Congress to find ways to give workers the free choice to join a union free from intimidation and harassment.

As of this evening, the AFL-CIO had not yet posted it on its media webpage, but both its blog and TPMDC featured portions of a statement by President John Sweeney:

Today’s announcement by Sen. Specter—a sponsor of the original Employee Free Choice Act who voted for cloture in 2007—is frankly a disappointment and a rebuke to working people, to his own constituents in Pennsylvania and working families around the country.