Back on November 23 and also earlier, I wrote about the political dilemma facing the new administration in Washington concerning how hard the new President should push for the so-called Employee Free Choice Act given the controversy that bill will engender.
The issue is exemplified again in a Steve Early op-ed this past weekend, entitled "Unions to Obama: Don't Abandon Us." Those strongly in favor of EFCA are trying to put pressure on the President even before his term of office begins. Chances are they are coordinating their efforts in articles like Mr. Early's and in other ways. Meanwhile, opponents are likewise trying to flex their political influence on this topic and have their point of view heard.
As many have noted, this is a tough call for a President-elect who made EFCA part of his platform and received hundreds of millions of dollars in union support during the election, plus the efforts of thousands of union members on the streets and at the polls. It is a tough call because secret ballot elections are a pillar of the American system, and it is hard to explain to the general public why you would want to eliminate them in the case of certifying unions. The election of Mr. Obama himself provides the most superb example of the power and wisdom of secret ballots. The last thing Mr. Obama needs is a divisive issue while he attempts to gain a consensus on other, more critical pieces of legislation.
This is one of the most interesting political dramas we will watch for the new administration. The next flash point will be when Mr. Obama designates his Secretary of Labor. At the press conference, there will be the question: "Mr. President-elect, will EFCA be your priority and that of your newly designated Secretary in your first 100 days?" His answer could light a tinderbox.