White House, Senate 'compromises' pave way for Specter's support of labor bill

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Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA)
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA)

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has held a number of different views on the Employee Free Choice Act in the last couple of years. Now, it looks as though the EFCA-supporter-turned-opponent may be shifting his position once more, recent reports suggest.

 A supporter of EFCA during the last session of congress (while still a Republican) Specter withdrew his endorsement of the bill in March, shortly after Democrats took control of Congress and the White House in January. (McKnight's, 3/26) When Specter changed parties April 28 and became a Democrat, he warned his new liberal allies that he would not toe the party line for them any more than he had for the Republicans, specifically saying “my position on Employees Free Choice (card check) will not change.” (McKnight's, 4/29)

On Thursday, however, Specter told reporters that he has been working with the White House and other senators on a compromise that could pave the way for his re-endorsement of EFCA. Speculation abounds as to just what compromises Specter would be willing to accept. His primary opposition is to EFCA's arbitration clause—which imposes a federally backed labor contract if one cannot be independently negotiated within a certain time frame—and the contentious “card check” provision—which allows workers to unionize if a majority sign onto the idea. Some suggest that Specter will have a hard time getting re-elected as a Democrat if he continues to oppose EFCA, and that any “compromises” are likely to be more superficial than substantive, suggests an analysis at Salon.com.