Tuesday, March 24, 2009

EFCA probably no more, and UNITE-HERE split

The big news today was that Arlen Specter said he will vote against cloture on EFCA, at least for this year. Specter was supposed to be the 60th vote. Greg Sargent thinks it's not completely over, but everyone else seems to think that's pretty much it.

I think Specter's announcement also hurts the possibility for any kind of 'compromise' that would do much good. The industry side should have relatively little incentive to compromise now. Oy.


In other labor news, UNITE-HERE split on Monday. Steven Greenhouse reports:
A splinter group claiming to represent 150,000 of Unite Here’s 400,000 members announced Monday that its delegates had voted to break away and merge into the Service Employees International Union.
The conjoined union’s president, Bruce S. Raynor, who previously led Unite, has maintained over the last year that the merger has failed. Mr. Raynor and other former Unite officials have argued for divorce, on the ground that the unification has not realized its goal of increased organizing.

Officials from the hotel workers’ side have opposed any split, saying Mr. Raynor wants to end the merger largely because he has been outvoted on a variety of issues by the union’s board.

John W. Wilhelm, who is president of Unite Here’s hotel and restaurant division and whose allies control the board, denounced the weekend move, saying Unite Here’s constitution did not allow for secession. The two sides are already battling in court over that question.

Tensions were made all the worse Monday because the breakaway group and the service employees announced that they would seek to unionize food service and hotel workers, who have fallen under the jurisdiction of Mr. Wilhelm’s division.

Two thoughts: competition between unions is, at least potentially, a good thing, not a bad thing (or at least that's what Cutler always says; I don't know the history myself). And second, SEIU is a bit anti-democratic and can be sketchy. It's great that they are unionizing more people, but, let's keep an eye on them.


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