Veteran Republican Senator Arlen Specter disclosed plans Tuesday to switch parties, a defection that will move Democrats closer to total control of the U.S. Senate. The switch may also revive EFCA in its original form despite Senator Specter’s withdraw of support for the pro-union legislation last month. Senator Specter faces a difficult primary in Pennsylvania.
Senator Specter was a co-sponsor of EFCA last year but withdrew his support. In an announcement made on March 24, 2009, he proposed alternative amendments to the NLRA addressing his perceived issues in delays and problems with the unionization process. His floor comments on his change of heart about EFCA will require some political backtracking, if he is now to support the measure consistent with his new party’s position:
On the merits, the issue which has emerged at the top of the list for me is the elimination of the secret ballot which is the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society. The bill’s requirement for compulsory arbitration if an agreement is not reached within 120 days may subject the employer to a deal he or she cannot live with. Such arbitration runs contrary to the basic tenet of the Wagner Act for collective bargaining which makes the employer liable only for a deal he or she agrees to. The arbitration provision could be substantially improved by the last best offer procedure which would limit the arbitrator’s discretion and prompt the parties to move to more reasonable positions.
For now, EFCA in its original form, may have been given new life in the Senate.