Depending on the outcome of November's midterm elections, the subsequent lame duck session may be Democrats' last chance to push through some major agenda items that have been on the back burner since they took control of Congress in 2006. Among these priorities is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), or "card check."
Though congressional leaders and their union allies aren't yet disclosing specific items on the lame duck calendar, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka has hinted that this union priority will be addressed "before the end of the year." In September, Trumka noted:
There is no question the Employee Free Choice Act has to become law and workers need it. EFCA is necessary so more people can get bargaining power and we can get fair share of the economic pie.
The Republicans are locked in against but we have we have president who supports it along with vast majority of the House and Senate and the public… We’re working on it every day.. .Stay tuned because before the end of the year, you are going to hear something about the Employee Free Choice Act because we are working on it every day.
During a conference call with reporters Thursday, Trumka again suggested Congress may vote on the contentious union bill soon. When asked if he had received a commitment from Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to move the bill, Trumka told them, "stay tuned."
“All I would say to you is stay tuned. That would be my best answer to you,” he said, declining further comment.
According to The Hill, others have hinted at a lame-duck vote on EFCA as well:
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in June this year that such a vote was possible.
“To those who think it’s dead, I say think again,” Harkin, the bill’s main sponsor, said on the liberal Bill Press radio show then.
“A lot of things can happen in a lame-duck session, too,” the senator later said in reference to EFCA.
Business groups warn that the bill would abolish the secret-ballot election, giving union leaders full access to workers' votes. Meanwhile, union leaders urge EFCA's quick passage, claiming it will make it easier for workers to unionize.
Republicans oppose the bill while some moderate Democrats have wavered in their support or have come out against it as well.