Friday, March 13, 2009

Grassroots Action Needed Right Here in Virginia On Employee Free Choice Act

UPDATE: I want to make it clear that Rep. Jim Moran and Rep. Gerry Connolly are original co-sponsors of the legislation and have been on board since it was introduced. If calls are made to their office, it should be to thank them for standing up for workers' rights.

In a post earlier today, I wrote about how Dan Duncan was correct in hinting that there needs to be some grassroots action to make sure that Virginia's Congressional delegation realizes the important role that the Employee Free Choice Act will play in protecting workers' rights if it's passed. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on our two senators and the 11th District's member of the House of Representatives.

As Dan pointed out in his video, Rep. Gerry Connolly has said that he would support the Employee Free Choice Act but there have been many folks in the business community who have put pressure on his to vote against the legislation. Sending him a friendly reminder that the Employee Free Choice Act is a good thing for his district would therefore be an excellent way to stand up for working families. While we definitely want Gerry to vote the right way, but it looks like the EFCA has the support necessary to see it passed in the House of Representatives.

As we've seen a lot recently, the House generally seems able to pass productive legislation only to see it weakened (if passed at all) by the Senate. It is therefore in the US Senate where I believe most of the grassroots activists must focus their attention. By most of the counts that I have seen, there are 59 votes in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate and they need 60 votes to move forward. It's important to note, however, that count assumes that Al Franken will be seated by the time the vote takes place and some of the more moderate Democrats will vote "aye." Unfortunately there's no guarantee that this course of action will happen. Right here in Virginia, for instance, some people who are active in the labor community have raised questions raised about whether Senators Webb and Warner will vote for the EFCA.

Although Webb comes from a working class background and has spoken about this with pride, there has been some speculation about whether or not he'd vote for the Employee Free Choice Act. Based upon what I've heard and the vote counts that I've seen, he probably will but he is still one of the Democrats that definitely needs that friendly reminder about why the legislation is so important. I therefore highly recommend getting in touch with his office to let him know that the EFCA would be good for Virginia. You can either call his office at 202-224-4024 or use the contact form on his website to send him an email (his postal address is also on the form if you prefer snail mail).

As I have spoken to people in the labor community, Sen. Mark Warner is also one of the senators who they are a little unsure about where he sits on the Employee Free Choice Act. While most vote counts that I have seen have him in favor of this legislation, nobody is speaking with absolute confidence about his stance. Anti-labor advocates are hoping to take advantage of the fact that he's a freshman Senator who has a history of being a centrist Democrat and made a significant amount of money as a businessman. Since, more importantly, Warner is an official who is interested in truly serving the best interests of his constituents I believe he will support legislation that protects workers' rights. An assertive effort must be made, however, to make sure that Warner knows the importance of the EFCA. I therefore strongly encourage people to get in touch with his office by calling 202-224-2023 or using the contact form on his website.

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