Senator Specter made an announcement today that he would oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, “until the economy improves.” In explaining his flip-flop decision [Specter had previously been a co-sponsor of the bill, you know, when it was only a concept that couldn’t possibly pass under President Bush], he said,
“The problems of a recession make this a particularly bad time to enact Employee’s choice legislation. Employers understandably complain that adding a burden would result in further job losses. If efforts are unsuccessful to give labor sufficient bargaining power through amendments to the [National Labor Relations Act] then I would be willing to reconsider Employees choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.”
An economic recession or depression is exactly when we should have the choice to organize a union and have a voice at the workplace. Specter could not have forgotten that the whole National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was created in 1935 — during the Great Depression for that very reason!
Actually, cynically speaking, I believe the NLRA was enacted largely because corporate America, Congress and FDR were a little freaked that things had gone a bit too far, suffering was a little too great, and the wind of revolution was blowing a little too hard. The American experiment for capitalism wasn’t working out for the masses and if something wasn’t done to appease people, an alternative economic paradigm with far more dire consequences for fat cat moguls may have caught on.
Fast forward to the economic crisis of today. I don’t think Corporate America was this smart and diabolical to plan (God help us if they are!), but last week everyone, up to, and including our President, was up in arms about the $165 million in bonuses at AIG. I admit, I am one of them — to an extent. This situation is outrageous and this small example embodies everything that is wrong with the corporate elite entitled mentality. However, I feel like the American people have been slowly duped, as well as kicked, for years. Lately, it has gotten so bad that we have actually noticed the pain and unfathomably reckless Wall Street subterfuge. But if the American public is lost and hurting and has a limited number of flare guns to fire for help, was the AIG bonus debacle worth expending a flare for Congress to respond to?
I guess we got our pound of flesh. I guess we got some or most of the $165 million back… when we’re talking about trillions of dollars, who cares? But what does Corporate America get? The grumbling has died down and the anger has subsided a bit. And Senator Specter feels comfortable (with his term coming up next year – and from Pennsylvania no less!) this week stating that now is not the time to build the middle class!
NOW is the time to fire the flare gun! The Employee Free Choice Act is a fundamental part of the equation for this country’s economic recovery and anybody saying otherwise is saying yes to the greedy corporate goons who got us in this mess and yes to CEO’s getting paid 400 times the amount of the average American worker and yes to absurd bonuses and yes to deregulation making it all legal.
The problems of a recession make this a particularly bad time to have Mr. Specter representing the American people. I would be willing to reconsider having Mr. Specter back in Congress when the economy returns to normalcy.