The man whose vote Democrats and labor supporters were counting on for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act said on the Senate floor that he would support his partys efforts to block it. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who was one of three Senate Republicans to vote for President Barack Obamas economic stimulus bill, was seen as a possible ally in a Democratic push to pass the labor legislation, which would ease the path of unions attempting to form new bargaining units and is opposed by the American Hospital Association.
Card check, the best-known provision of the bill, would allow organizers to bypass a secret-ballot election in favor of collecting signed cards from workers. Specter said the provision was decisive for him, calling the secret ballot the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society. He also was critical of the bills requirement that parties enter binding arbitration if a contract isnt reached within 120 days.
Specter expressed sympathy for unions and the cuts in jobs, pay and pensions their members have suffered. The composition of the Senate left him in the anguishing position of deciding whether the bill would get the 60 votes necessary to survive a filibuster. With the prospects of a Democratic win in Minnesota, yet uncertain, it appears that 59 Democrats will vote to proceed with 40 Republicans in opposition. If so, the decisive vote would be mine, he said.