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Employee Free Choice: Whither Feinstein?

difi2.thumbnail.jpgA co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act back in 2007, California Senator Dianne Feinstein is, sadly, now the lone holdout among those previous co-sponsors in the state’s Democratic delegation in Washington. Feinstein has issued a statement saying that she likely won’t support the Employee Free Choice Act in its current form.

Isn’t it shocking? We have a President who campaigned saying he will sign the legislation if passed by Congress, but in the same week that retail giants propose a gutted "third way" for employees to organize, DiFi decides to seek a compromise with agriculture and business interests!

“I have thought for some time that the way to approach this issue is by trying to see if there can’t be a compromise between the business community, the agriculture community and labor. This is an extraordinarily difficult economy and feelings are very strong on both sides of the issue. I would hope there is some way to find common ground that would be agreeable to both business and labor.”

Senator Tom Harkin has already perforated this "oh, noes, the economy!!" silliness we are hearing from Free Choice opponents old and new:

"In 1935, we passed the Wagner Act that promoted unionization and allowed unions to flourish, and at the time we were at around 20 percent unemployment. So tell me again why we can’t do this in a recession?" said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), invoking the pro-labor changes of the New Deal. "This is the time to do it. This is exactly the time we should be insisting on a fairer playing field for people to organize themselves."

Any Democrat who says the economy is the reason not to pass Employee Free Choice is listening to the wrong constituencies.

Because of Sen. Specter’s announced opposition, the Employee Free Choice Act faces an uphill battle. But at the very least, Californians should expect that all of their representatives in Washington would understand the need to strengthen unions as a means to strengthening the overall middle class, increasing wages and BOOSTING, not hurting the economy.

The Courage Campaign has launched a letter-writing campaign called Which Side Are You On?

Dear Senator Dianne Feinstein,

In this time of economic crisis, we are distressed to hear that you have not yet endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act, especially as conservatives launch a massive campaign to discredit and oppose the bill.

The Employee Free Choice Act, which you co-sponsored and voted for in 2007, is a centerpiece of progressive efforts to help working Americans recover from this economic crisis. As in the Great Depression, the best way to rebuild the middle class is to allow workers to form unions. Workers covered by a union contract have better wages and benefits. Non-union workers benefit from these higher standards when unions are strong in their areas.

We, the undersigned, call upon you to endorse and to co-sponsor the Employee Free Choice Act. We ask that you join President Barack Obama, Senator Barbara Boxer, the entire California Democratic delegation in the House of Representatives, members of labor unions and progressives across America in ensuring that this act becomes law in 2009.

Join the Courage Campaign’s letter here and also email Senator Feinstein here.

California Democrats expect our Congressional delegation to be unanimous on this legislation. Why would our senior Senator go wobbly when passage is looking more likely every day? This isn’t a train to miss: Dianne Feinstein needs to make the right choice on Employee Free Choice.

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