To steal an old line from Karl Marx, a Specter is
haunting America... as in Arlen Specter, the Senator from
In case you missed it, on Tuesday,
April 28th, Specter announced that he was leaving the
Republican Party and re-joining the Democratic Party... which he
had previously abandoned many years earlier in his political
Why is this important to
Siding with the Republicans,
Specter was viewed by many as being the lone Senator preventing the
Democratic majority from pushing forward with the
Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which would make it easier to
unionize and one which President Obama has already said he would
Business Week, "Specter's party switch-coupled with the
apparent victory of Minnesota Democrat Al Franken in that state's
contested Senate election-would give the Democrats the necessary
60-vote supermajority needed to impose cloture and end Senate
In other words, card check---a bill
that would be ruinous for the labor-intnesive restaurant
industry---would be back on the table. This time around could
be even more tricky for business; the possiblity of a "compromise"
to remove the secret ballot issue as the lightning rod could pave
the way for the bill to start moving through a mollified
Specter attempted to placate the
business community in the
statement announcing his switch, noting that "My change in
party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter
any more for the Democrats than I have been for the Republicans...
For example, my position on Employees Free Choice will not
Then again, it's already changed.
Specter supported card check legislation in 2007 before voting
against it in 2009. It's no surprise union supporters smell
blood in the water.
"It's a huge change for labor and
for progressives everywhere,"
said AFL-CIO legislative director Bill Samuel. "This provides
the room, it provides space for him to continue this discussion and
pass a meaningful bill."
Joseph Biden further added, "We are working very closely with
labor, we support card check... knowing Arlen, I believe Arlen will
probably have an open mind if there's a compromise offered...He's
an intelligent, open-minded guy and I think he would listen to
As I mentioned in
an earlier post on this matter, union advocates are hoping to
use legislative rules to amend a compromise bill to their advantage
should some moderate Senators take the bait. It should
therefore come as no surprise that "Specter's comments last month
that he would reconsider if changes were made to the bill has union
leaders giddy about his party switch. They sense he will be free to
soften his stance on the measure as Democrats work out a
compromise." Those of us in the business community need to
remember that, regarding this compromise, accepting half of
a big mistake is still a big mistake.
In the meantime, the whims of a
habitual flip-flopper may be the only thing preventing mass
unionization of many service industries.
I'm sure Specter meant it when he
said he won't change his mind on card check... just like he meant
he said he wouldn't switch parties on March