Specter to labor: You'll like how I'll vote
2009 Sen. Arlen Specter, addressing a crowd of union activists outside of the Democratic Committee meeting in Pittsburgh on Saturday, urged them to look at the breadth of his job-producing past and votes alongside labor when considering who they'll back for Senate in 2010.
But with the crowd of a couple hundred solely focused on the Employee Free Choice Act, Specter pleaded with some more hostile activists that they'll be happy with his vote on the union organizing bill.
"I understand," Specter said after one member of the crowd shouted "You want my vote, I want your vote."
"I believe you'll be satisfied with my vote on this issue," Specter said.
Specter's appeal came during a break in his first in-person outreach to the statewide Democratic Party since he jumped from the Republican ship in late April.
He wasn't shy in trying to take credit for the $787 billion stimulus bill that Congress passed earlier this year with support from only three Republicans, including Specter. Specter said he was "largely responsible" for the measure and that it would "bring thousands of jobs to people in Pennsylvania and across America."
That all takes a back seat to the Employee Free Choice Act -- or "card check" -- for union activists, and with aspects of the original measure apparently dead, Specter may have a tough time winning over some in the labor movement, regardless of what he does on any future bill.
Specter, in an interview afterward, said he does not "see how we can have elections without the secret ballot," referring to a key provision in the original legislation.
"I expect some people to be insistent on the bill as it is currently written, but I think also that many people understand that legislation is the art of accommodation and compromise," he said.
U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, Specter's potential challenger in the Senate contest, also addressed the crowd and was greeted warmly. He has pledged to support the Employee Free Choice Act.
Specter addresses Employee Free Choice rally in PGH, supports free-ish choice?
Share this on Twitter - Specter addresses Employee Free Choice rally in PGH, supports free-ish choice? Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 08:38:40 AM PDT
I just got back from hearing Sen. Arlen Specter address the Employee Free Choice rally at the Westin in Pittsburgh, co-hosted by Democracy for America and several labor groups (SEIU, PA AFL-CIO and the Allegheny County Labor Council).
The PA State Democratic Committee Meeting was this weekend at the Westin, and Specter was there in his first official capacity with the party. Guessing that he felt the pressure, because we got word last night that Specter had decided to attend the rally.
Post speech, there are definitely mixed reactions from folks. Most of the state party members I talked with seem hopeful that Specter will come around to support Democratic issues. Union workers in the crowd seemed unsatisfied with what he said, as was I.
More below the fold.
ALinSF's diary :: ::
Specter mentioned first contract in his laundry list of things he supports, but other than that all he really said was that he understands that he has to come to labor to get elected in PA. The high point came when someone in the crowd yelled "If you want my vote, I want yours."
He briefly mentioned that he's working with high-level labor folks and others in Congress to find a negotiation "that will satisfy you" but spent the bulk of his time on stage touting his support of the stimulus and how the stimulus equals jobs.
He ended by saying he is confident that the crowd will be happy with his vote on Employee Free Choice. Personally, I'm a little frustrated at his filibustering, but I wasn't really expecting much from him this morning.
Specter did say that he feels the pressure and the heat--and that's obvious, or he wouldn't have come.
Tags: Arlen Specter, Joe Sestak, Employee Free Choice, Labor, SEIU, AFL-CIO, Democracy for America, EFCA, Employee Free choice, Specter, EFCA Compromise, Union Blogs, Unions, Employee Free Choice Compromise, Pennsylvania