28 January 2009

People get ready

The battle for the Employee Free Choice Act is coming....

In the lead-up to the election, the co-founder of Home Depot, Bernie Marcus, called Employee Free Choice "the demise of civilization." Wal-Mart summoned store managers into mandatory meetings to warn them against it. Industrial launderer Cintas launched a website to oppose it. The retail industry associations paid blue-chip lobbying firms to block it. The Chamber of Commerce hired Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao's chief of staff to run its opposition campaign, which trashed the bill as antidemocratic because it allows workers to bypass a formal election. Business groups spent tens of millions on ads attacking Democrats in tight Senate races, including $5 million targeting challenger Jeff Merkley of Oregon, a supporter of the bill who was smeared with a mailer accusing him of doing the bidding of corrupt labor leaders and trailed at every campaign appearance by a grim reaper claiming "Merkley kills democracy." "I've never seen anything like it," says Merkley's campaign manager, John Isaac, "where a group spent so much money to insert their issue into a campaign."

Even corporations dining at the bailout trough haven't noticed the contradictions between begging the American taxpayers for a lifeline while trying to keep a boot to their throats.  
 Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

This spectre of this fight has been looming over much of the posturing surrounding the varous bailout and stimulus packages before Congress.  But that is just the skirmishing before the battle. This thing is going to be Armageddon. The Republicans, backed by an alliance of the most powerful corporations in the country, have been gearing up for months to fight it.  Will Obama and the Democrats stand and fight, or will they embrace their role as the new Party of Business?