In June of 2007, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter was the only Republican to vote with Democrats to end debate on the Employee Free Choice Act. The motion failed, 51 to 48, because 60 votes are needed in the Senate to end debate.
Now that Democrats presumptively have 59 votes in the Senate (with Democrat Al Franken the expected winner of the contested seat in Minnesota), Specter has announced he won’t repeat his vote to end debate on the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation which would make forming unions at workplaces less difficult.
What do you think of Specter’s reversal?
Specter’s loyalties lie with Big Business
It’s clear that his first vote to support cloture (to end debate) was simply political calculus. He did vote against his party, but obviously knowing that the motion would fail and his vote would have no practical effect. Thus, allowing him to have his cake and eat it too. Something ALL politicians love to do. Now that his vote would have the practical effect of making the EFCA law, we can see his true loyalties. They obviously lie with the Republicans and Big Business and not with working class Americans.
San Diego, Calif
Can’t count on Specter
As a former resident of Pennsylvania, I’m very disappointed to hear that Arlen Specter has changed his mind on the EFCA, but I am not surprised. The guy has always been a weasel and someone you really can’t count on for help with the middle class. I hope he loses his bid for re-election in 2010. Good riddance!
Specter: always there when you don’t need him
I’m not surprised at all about Specter’s reversal on key labor legislation, in this case EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act. Senator Specter, like many other so-called moderate members of Congress, who claim to be labor-friendly, is always there when you don’t need him. Look at his vote in June of 2007. It was doomed for failure, so the Republican leadership released him to curry favor with labor. Unfortunately, this is a pattern for many other fair weather friends of labor, as well as Senator Specter. They vote with labor often enough to earn or keep labor leaders’ support but, when “key” legislation like trade bills, anti-strike breaking laws and labor law reform like EFCA come along, they turn their back on workers.
This practice is not surprising nor is the practice of unions giving these legislators a pass and, in most cases, an endorsement when they run for reelection. So, no, I’m not surprised by the reversal of Senator Specter on EFCA, and I won’t be surprised when he receives support from many unions in his upcoming reelection bid. The rationale we will hear is “he’s with us (labor) on many issues.” And he is. But try finding him and other “moderates” when it really matters.
Jan D. Pierce
Quaker City, Ohio
Senator Flip Flop
The best way to deal with Senator Flip Flop is to put in his seat a Democrat who will not flip flop. Is Ed Rendell interested and wouldn’t he be reliable on such issues?
Herbert G. Reid
Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Kentucky
Is this a new, ratty philosophy from Specter?
Anyone who has worked in a non-union shop and tried to organize a union knows the barriers placed before them: the rumor-mongering, the open threats, the veiled threats, the workplace changes that nearly but don’t quite cross NLRB rules and so on. Just getting the minimum number of cards signed means that a great many more support unionization but for various reasons are reluctant to sign. The EFCA is a self-evident no-brainer, and even if the EFCA is passed, the odds are still stacked against the unions. Passing the EFCA would, however, begin to reverse the anti-union tide that was accelerated by Reagan’s destruction of the Air Traffic Controllers union in 1981.
That sharp reversal of union power has led to a wage depression over the last 40 years, and this has a close connection to our current economic crisis. High wage earners don’t need subprime mortgages, tend not to default, and do create a domestic market to sustain a vibrant economy– low wage earners (the result of de-unionization) do not.
Specter is not a fool, and he surely understands all the above. But, did he vote pro-union in 2007 because he could do the math and realize then that he could appear pro-union but with no effect? Or was he sincere then, but now is running scared of a primary challenge within an increasingly right-wing, anti-people, anti-union, marginalized Republican Party? I guess that amounts to asking “was he always a rat or is this something new?”
Brooklyn, New York
Repuglican coward and corporate lapdog
What do I think of the Republican’s reversal? Specter rolled over and is a Repuglican coward and corporate lapdog.
The more important question is what do I think, as a resident of Colorado, of our “appointed” new Democratic(?) Senator Michael Bennet?
I think even less of Bennet after his failure to come out in support of the Employee Free Choice Act than I do of Arlen Specter. Bennet’s been ducking the issue like a shy prostitute, in other words how oxymoronic of him to be a Democrat(?) who can’t choose between supporting labor or supporting corporate power.
Mary Ann Meyers
Specter prefers credit cards over union cards
Specter apparently favors credit cards and payday loans as the preferred “union cards” in this country. Disgusting! American workers deserve a living wage, and the only way to that end is unionization.
Organizing a perceived right, not a real one
Had Senator Specter not reversed his decision, Senators would have been forced to show the vote. Where I come from, it’s called the Employer Free Choice Act and undoubtedly it’s a perceived “right” not a real one. Been there, Still there. Ready to move forward. Put away the past.
Kerry Joel Sudberry
Votes for workers when there’s not gain
It looks like Senator Spector’s big business masters allowed him to vote the way workers in Pennsylvania would prefer as long as he could safely do so without actually achieving gains for workers. Now that the balance has shifted, he must show his true colors and tow the corporate line.
Time for Specter to be a statesman
The skills of a great politician include a mastery of showmanship, compromise, deal making, fund raising, and most important of all, knowing how to get reelected each and every time. The skills of a great statesman are the courage and wisdom to dismiss all the potential rewards from those political skills to do something that you know is right and will improve the lives of the greatest number of people.
Senator Arlen Specter has shown his skills as a great politician throughout his entire career and now is the time for him to show his skills as a great statesman by voting to end the debate on the Employee Free Choice Act.
As the senior Senator from the great state of Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter knows better than anyone the damage done to working and middle class Americans by thirty years of union busting, trickle down, voodoo economic policies. He knows that only a resurgence of strong healthy collective bargaining units across the America workforce will stop the decline in living standards and economic opportunities for all American wage earners across this great country.
The Employee Free Choice Act is a once in a generation piece of legislation that will have such a positive impact on so many lives. It is time for Senator Specter to rest his laurels as a great politician, and step up to the plate as the great statesman that he is and vote to end the debate on the Employee Free Choice Act.
North Smithfield, R.I.
Specter seeking both sides
He’s walking both sides of the street. He knows how poorly Pennsylvanians are doing (and that the state went for Obama in the election), and he doesn’t want to appear to be unsupportive of his constituents. But on the other side of the street, he worries about his party exacting a political price in the future for his support of Democrats. He can tell his constituents a half-truth in his next campaign–that he voted for it–knowing most people don’t really know or bother to look up individual votes on various bills.
Pressure from RNC
I think Specter was pressured by the RNC and most likely told that he would not receive funds for his upcoming run for re-election.
Buckling under pressure of the nasties
Ever since the rise to power of the nasty breed of Republican that seeks to make government a zero-sum political game — I’m thinking Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, etc. — there have been distinguished, experienced senators quitting the senate while expressing dismay at how the institution had deteriorated. I have always seen Arlen Specter as one of the old-style, respectable men willing to continue trying to make the legislature something all Americans can be proud of. But lately, I’m afraid, he has been buckling under the pressure of the nasties.
It’s very sad.
Reversal provokes questions about intent
Senator Specter’s “change of heart” with regard to the Employee Free Choice Act makes one wonder. Was he cynical when he supported it knowing that it would not pass? After all, he scored some points with working people by his assumed support.
And, now, has he had a change of heart, or simply been overwhelmed with pressure from corporations and lobbyist? Or was he opposed to the EFCA all along?
La Madera, N.M.
Specter clueless about survival today
I wonder if Mr. Specter has ever had to work for his income, do a dirty job, do something he doesn’t want to, but had to, because without doing said job, there would be no food on his children’s table. I doubt it. Senators and Congresspeople have absolutely no idea what it is like to survive in this day and age of, at the minimum, two jobs to make ends meet.
Or maybe they all should be laid off, given their proverbial pink slips, because those buffoons got us into this mess in the first place. I am referring to the fact that it was Congress, which, when they stripped away the banking controls that had been enacted in the last depression, caused this current depression. They should have to clean toilets for a while; you know, get a feel for what the rest of us have to suffer through.
I’d be happy to make six figures to sit on my butt and listen to lobbyists all day, and I don’t want to hear about how hard these government officials work because you and I don’t have an army of staff members doing our job for us. Don’t get me started.
Biotechnology student, Hocking College
Specter tows typical GOP anti-union line
I think it is very disappointing to hear that Sen. Specter will not vote as he did in 2007. I am wondering what prompted him to vote for the Employee Free Choice Act in the first place and then change his mind this year. I have respected some decisions/stances he has taken in the past (ie voting for this in 2007) but to hear that he is towing the typical Republican party line of anti-unionism is upsetting. I am disgusted to see time and time again, politicians who are supposed to be “for the people” or the voice of the people, continue to vote for the best interests of the corporation rather than the people, the worker.
Sounds like RNC threats
Sounds like the RNC threatened him, doesn’t it?
Could be just general cussedness; he’s done that before, but my guess is that the party made it known that if Specter voted against their line, he could lose support.
Again, there’s precedent for that.
Senate should change filibuster rules
When will Sen. Reid have the good sense to change the filibuster rules so that a mere majority can pass a bill in the Senate?
Grand Coulee, Wash.
Reversal surprising and disappointing
Sen. Specter: Your reluctance to support this legislation is surprising and disappointing. In the name of fairness, please reconsider your position.
Rev. Wesley E. Blaha
Seek support of others
I think we must leave Senator Arlen Specter to vote his conscientious in peace. He needs the support of Republicans. Let’s reason instead with the others and seek to develop additional allies among them.
David A. Crosbie
Specter made a major mistake
Specter has made a major mistake if he is planning to run for re-election. Several hazards await him: (1) he could be defeated by a strong candidate who is a liberal and pro-labor Democrat, of course; but he could also (2) run into terrible troubles in his party’s primary. Far-right GOPs like to run a candidate against him, as they did last time, though he managed a narrow victory. BUT Democrats, possibly faced with a primary in which the choice is obvious or an easy winner, could (temporarily switch parties and) vote in the Republican primary for the far-rightist in order to help insure that Specter goes down. (There are many ways to skin a fat cat!)
Gerald L. Houseman,
Specter’s weasel votes
A reversal from Specter is no big surprise. He will vote with us whenever he knows the vote won’t matter. He votes with the Republican leadership when it counts. Look at his weasel words on the Clinton impeachment votes. His only saving grace is that any other Republican from Pennsylvania would be worse (or maybe not – integrity is something to value even if it’s in one’s opponents).
There is no sinister conspiracy behind the EFCA to thwart an employee’s freedom to choose or not to choose union representation as some opponents would have the public believe. The EFCA is a straightforward attempt to reverse the anti-union bias that has perverted US law for nearly thirty years. Arlen Specter knows that. His refusal to support EFCA this time around is nothing short of a sell-out to political expediency now that his incumbency is challenged by strong right-wing opposition in the forthcoming Pennsylvania Republican primary election. Shame on you Arlen Specter.
David A. Blythe
Specter pressured by Republicans and right
I think it is awful. Senator Specter has had a lot of pressure put on him by Republicans and the Right in general. We need to get our folks out there with emails, calls, etc. in support of his progressive votes of late. We also need the same kinds of action to show him how many people are in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act. Each member must contact family and friends to do the same. We must get this act through now, at this point in history. Other potential Republicans might be Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. We need mass action now!
Lathrup Village, Mich.
Exigencies of politics
Even as a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, I have always admired Senator Specter’s honesty. I don’t want to think that he would vote to end debate only when he knew his vote was safe; when his vote would not be the 60th. Yet, I believe he is up for election this year and that his seat is not safe. The exigencies of politics are such that, should his vote be the 60th, he would lose his seat. I’d rather see him hold back this time with the hope that this decent man will be returned to his Senate seat.
Tragedy for Employee Free Choice Act
I guess soul-selling is the accepted way to go when you are up for reelection. He finds ways to placate his conscience by pretending he is in the Senate to serve the people. Isn’t this par for the course among too many of our politicians?
What a tragedy when The Employee Free Choice Act hangs in the balance!
Far Rockaway, N.Y.
Senator, you have to go
Hon. Sen. Specter, Sir: Thank you for nothing. After sending us two identical “‘boiler-plate” letters, one on 12/22/08 and the other on 3/24/08, on your ostensibly supportive position of the EFCA, yesterday you turned around and announced your opposition to it.
Most troubling, was the report from The Patriot-News, by Charles Thompson: “On the Senate floor, Specter said he was troubled by the bill’s proposed elimination of the secret ballot, which he called ‘the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society’.”
This is troubling because you know “the elimination of the secret ballot” is absolutely false, and not part of the bill.
The article suggests your decision was politically motivated. This is the political reality: You have had the support of moderate Democrats in the past because of the moderate positions you have shown. To stray to the far right would be a mistake. Should you do that, we would actually welcome the candidacy of far right lunatics like Pat Toomey, so that he would be crushed in November of 2010. Sorry, but if we can’t rely upon you for non-partisan votes, then you have to go.
Randi & Tom Alba
Specter kneeling at the alter of big business
Spector is a gutless punk who pandered to labor when there was no chance of the bill passing. Now that we have a real shot at passing this bill, he is showing his true colors. He is kneeling at the altar of big business. Unions and their members in Pennsylvania should not forget this double cross.
Specter should vote for fairness
Are all Republicans the same? We had one on our road, who signed a right-of-way for the road to be paved when a Republican was governor, but when it was a Democratic governor, he wouldn’t sign one. They never vote on the fairness side of any issue.
Without unions our country will not survive as the leader of the free-world. Education on union backed issues is the key to enlightenment of people who through no fault of their own, stand on the wrong side of issues.
Vote change inconceivable
I cannot understand how Senator Specter could even consider changing his vote. This bill is a “no-brainer. It is vital for our economy. How could anyone not support it – where are the thoughts of those missing Democrats – amazing that we would elect persons like this to “represent” us in Congress.
Make the Republicans filibuster
I think it is time to make the Republicans filibuster against the working man if that is their choice.
Upper Marlboro, Md.
I think somebody needs to kick Arlen upside the head.
Specter feels threatened
I hope that Specter (and others in the GOP) have the courage to vote in good conscience for the interest of working people in Pennsylvania and the country. It’s apparent that he feels threatened by the CFG (Club for Growth) contingent, who are interested in a business agenda that is disconnected from the needs of working people. If only politicians on either side of the aisle would stand up to this anti-worker agenda, people would respond in support.
It’s very disheartening to see the path that Specter and so many others in government are taking while the middle class continues to be undermined across the U.S., by denial of basic union organizing rights and protections granted in most “civilized” nations.
Specter votes for his own advantage
Arlen Specter has been a successful politician for a very long time.
Successful politicians, for the most part, do what is in their best interests. When Specter voted FOR the Employee Free Choice Act, he did so in order to position himself with the Democratic Party, at a time when that party’s fortunes were on the rise. Now, he is fighting against the EFCA because he has more to gain from his fellow Republicans, and the business interests that support them, by doing so, than can be gained by siding with the Democrats. Politics as usual.
Specter’s decision all GOP politics
It’s about politics. The Republicans see Barack Obama succeeding beyond their and many others’ (including Democrats) expectations and so now they see themselves circling the wagons lest they help the President succeed. I say the President, because he has expressed strong support for Employee Free Choice, so anything that furthers that success will be opposed by the GOP. Come election time, they’ll come around. We need to remember that, including let’s not forget the biggest traitor of all, Senator Joe Lieberman.
Angel Rodriguez, a former copper miner from Morenci, Ariz.
Specter a straw in the wind
I think Senator Specter is still smarting from the beating his fellow Republicans administered after his vote on the stimulus bill, so he is trying to assert his ideological purity with this vote. I can remember when he first ran for the Senate; he was a decent, principled former DA with crime-fighting credentials. Now he seems more like a straw in the wind, hell-bent on keeping his seat, no matter who gets hurt.
I guess we’ll have to get some other help with this….
Replace Specter with pro-union Democrat
I am not surprised. After all, he is a Republican. The union members of Pennsylvania need to replace Specter with a pro-union Democrat. Unions do have an ally with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. We could urge Obama and Biden to resort to the nuclear option. The first step is getting all Democrats to support EFCA.
William Joseph Miller
Los Angeles, Calif.
Specter’s response unfortunate
Senator Specter’s response was unfortunate, and it probably was due to his fear of being defeated in the next Republican primary because of a YES vote. It may be possible to deal with his concerns and to eventually gain his support, but if not, surely there are other ways to gain a Republican vote. I think the solution is to compromise- make a deal – give up something, to gain something else. Perhaps the key is with President Obama. Maybe he can help put a deal together that satisfies labor and one Republican senator. Please recall that Specter, Snowe and Collins helped Obama before, for something I am sure each of them wanted.
Votes for middle class when it doesn’t count
Mr. Specter has done this before. He votes for the middle class so long as his vote won’t count; but when it counts, he always votes for the corporate hierarchy. He is a true Republican, but tries to conceal the fact. I was surprised when he voted with Collins and Snowe for the stimulus, the only time I have seen him break his rule.
David G. Wagner MD
Union members must vote their interests
I think Senators are allowed to vote for their constituents when it won’t affect the outcome, but must vote with the party when required to do so or face primary opposition.
As long as union members–or the 60 million who want to become union members–fail to vote (or vote Republican), the Employee Free Choice Act has an uphill fight.
My county brags about being one of the “most Republican in the nation” — and 60% of the parents of public school kids are not registered.
Arlen Specter should have been voted out long ago. Yet, he can’t have been elected without the votes–or apathy– of labor.