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April 10, 2013 / Paul Levy

Waiting for Labor(‘s) Day?

Monday, July 28, 2008, 8:39pm

Several months ago, I mentioned the large sum of money being spent by the SEIU on political races throughout the country. Now, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal questions the legality of the manner the SEIU is collecting these funds from its members. (By the way, the sum I mentioned was $75 million. The WSJ raises this to $150 million.)

I am not qualified to make a judgment on the legal issues raised by the Journal editorial writer, but I want to raise a related political issue. SEIU concludes one of its publications with the following depiction of the future: SEIU’s health care profile — and power — will only continue to grow. After we help elect a pro-worker president and stronger pro-worker majorities in Congress, we will take all our energy, idea, organizing strength, grassroots lobbying and political muscle and make it happen. Next year, 2009, we — all of us — will make history. We will achieve quality affordable health care for every man, woman, and child in America.

Well written, for sure, but nowhere in the document does the SEIU mention a very specific and important part of its legislative strategy — to change the federal law to eliminate the right of workers to vote on whether they want to have a union. The so-called Employee Free Choice Act would undo the long-standing practice under the National Labor Relations Act that provides for an election among the workers to decide if they want union representation.

Here is a story by Kevin Drawbaugh from the Washington Post last year, when the bill was considered by Congress. It appears that the two major Presidential candidates disagree about this bill, but thus far, this issue has not received much coverage or commentary. This is perhaps understandable at this stage in the campaign, but it will be very interesting to see the public’s reaction if and when the question is raised in debates and elsewhere as the campaign heats up after, er, Labor Day.

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