This is mostly about posturing and placating. Democrats still lack the votes needed to pass big labor's agenda, but unelected lawyers occupying powerful administrative positions can still do great damage.
While addressing the executive council of the AFL-CIO at the Washington Convention Center in D.C. earlier this month, President Obama told labor leaders that he would push congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which includes the anti- secret ballot "card check" provision.
In the 2008 election cycle, labor union political action committees (PACs) donated $66 million to congressional candidates with 92 percent of those funds going to Democrats. Obama knows he'll need this key constituency out in full force to help negate the expected mid-term election losses in the House and Senate.
"We are going to keep on fighting to pass the Employee Free Choice Act," Obama declared even as he acknowledged that labor faces an uphill fight. Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and other moderate Democrats have expressed opposition. However, the president has appointed left-leaning lawyers to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who are now positioned to secure major policy changes without congressional approval.
Glenn Spencer, executive director of the Workforce Freedom Initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, issued the following statement in response to Obama's speech.
"We welcome the President's call to rebuild our economy, but taking away the private ballot and imposing government-dictated union contracts on employers won't help. Misguided bills like Card Check, overbearing regulations from the Department of Labor, and a slanted NLRB will only discourage America's job creators from putting people back to work."