Specter took $250K from union buster in 2008, then turned back on workers

ronmooreSen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has spent a career crafting an image of independence and integrity. On March 24 he sacrificed both when he turned his back on the working people in his state. Specter announced that he would not vote to allow the Employee Free Choice Act to receive an up or down vote on the Senate floor; a move that some consider fatal to the legislation. In a statement on the Senate floor he waxed eloquent about his belief that a difficult economic climate is no time for workers to receive a living wage. 

Specter received $235,350 in 2008 from Blank Rome LLP a self described “union avoidance” law firm with offices in nine states and, appropriately, Communist China. Union busting law firms thrived after Ronald Reagan fired the PATCO workers, setting off a wave of union busting. The union busting consulting industry advises clients on strategies to prevent workers from forming unions and tactics to destroy existing union contracts. While they do not counsel clients to break the law, they inform them of the relatively minor consequences.

In his statement yesterday Specter doesn’t mention the contribution only parrots his benefactor’s talking points: “Regrettably, there has been widespread intimidation on both sides. Testimony shows union officials visit workers’ homes with strong-arm tactics and refuse to leave until cards are signed. Similarly, employees have complained about being captives in employers’ meetings with threats of being fired and other strong-arm tactics.” While he must know the first statement is untrue, knowing the second is true and supporting employers’ strong-arm tactics openly is stunning.

Specter loses what little dignity he has left by mentioning the opposition’s canard the “secret ballot”: “On the merits, the issue which has emerged at the top of the list for me is the elimination of the secret ballot which is the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society.” There is no provision for eliminating any method of voting in the Employee Free Choice Act. The EFCA simply transfers the power to decide from the employer to the employee.

Specter is often taunted as a RINO (Republican in name only) by the extreme right in his party for his past respect for women and workers. Facing a challenge in the 2010 Republican Party primary, Specter has chosen to throw away his integrity in the name of political expediency. Anyone looking for a reason to believe that politicians don’t act in the best interest of the nation now has a prime example.

The Employee Free Choice Act will re-establish the rule of law in the American workplace by placing real penalties on employers who engage in illegal behavior. The EFCA allows workers to negotiate with their employer after a majority approve in a simple card check vote. Workers may chose to have a second vote prior to negotiating but unlike the current system where employers make that choice the EFCA would put the choice in the hands of workers. Only after a good faith agreement is reached and approved in a majority secret ballot vote do workers have a union. 

The passage of the Employee Free Choice Act hinges on the ability to win cloture with the support of 60 senators as the Republican minority will not allow the measure on the floor since it would be approved by a clear majority in an up or down vote. Senator Specter has now sold his reputation and betrayed American workers for less than a quarter million dollars — a real bargain in this economy. 

Ron Moore is a freelance writer living in Silver Spring, Maryland with decades of service in the grassroots community as a local union president, union organizer, national AFL-CIO staff, and writer for the A. Philip Randolph Institute.  Moore writes on labor and other issues at The Examiner, a citizen’s journalism site.

4 Responses

  1. Where there’s SMOKE….

    “Blank Rome LLP has over 425 attorneys who are organized in the following practices: public companies & capital formation, emerging & closely held companies, business tax, customs and international trade private clients, health law, employment, benefits & labor, intellectual property & technology, maritime, matrimonial, real estate, public finance, business restructuring & bankruptcy, financial services, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS, and litigation including:….

    Soft Money Donations for 01/01/1995 through 12/31/2002., Common Cause. Note: $46,000 donated to the Democratic National Committee; $439,542.00 donated to the Republican National Committee. This is an approximate ratio of 1:10.

    “Arlen Specter has taken $153,600 in campaign contributions from COMCAST or those affiliated with Comcast as employees or through its PAC. The only firm which has given more money to Specter is the law firm Blank Rome, LLP, WHICH REPRESENTS COMCAST and which has given Specter $358,453 although the organization itself did not donate, rather the money came from the organization’s PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.”

    Hmmm. Wonder where this goes?

    Follow the money. ALWAYS follow the money.

    Comcast isn’t exactly a “union friendly” company. Wonder how much they’ve spent opposing the EFCA?

    Follow the MONEY. ALWAYS.

  2. Snarlin’ Arlen does what’s best for Snarlin’ Arlen

    Remember the grandstanding in the NFL Spygate “scandal”?


    Specter criticizes NFL, wants independent Spygate investigation

    WASHINGTON — Hold on, NFL. Spygate isn’t over. Not if the “incensed” Philadelphia Eagles fan in Congress has anything to do with it.


    “I have documented the strong factual case that a NFL investigation was neither objective nor adequate,” Specter told ESPN.com on Wednesday evening. “If the commissioner doesn’t move for an independent investigation, then there will be a permanent black mark on the NFL and the Patriots’ record will be historically tainted. Depending on the public reaction, I MAY ASK THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARINGS ON THE NFL ANTITRUST EXEMPTION.”
    There are some issues between the NFL, the NFL Network, Spector, and a major $$$ contributor to Spector: COMCAST


    The Senator from Comcast?: Arlen Specter and SpyGate
    By Dave Zirin

    Long before Spygate, dating to 1983 according to aides, Specter has railed against the antitrust exemption held by the NFL….Yet in recent years, the object of Specter’s NFL ire has been the NFL Network and its exclusive relationship with DirecTV. The Philadelphia-based Comcast cable company IS IN A WAR with the NFL over whether they can charge their customers for the NFL Network, unlike DirecTV.

    Here is where we start to get filthy. Specter was described to me by an opponent as “the Senator from the great state of Comcast.” Is this fair?

    Comcast is the No. 2 source of campaign funds for the Senator. Comcast execs and employees have given a reported $153,600 in contributions, going back to 1989. The No. 1 contributor since ’89 is Blank Rome LLC, a lobbying firm that has dumped $358,483 into Specter’s coffers. A chief client of Blank Rome is
    …. wait for it ….Comcast.

    Goodell has pulled no punches on Comcast, saying, “They’re just finding another way which they can charge our consumers more money. We think it (the NFL Network) should be available on a broader basis.” When asked if Specter’s vendetta is related to Comcast, Goodell only said, “I’m not addressing that point.”
    Spector claims this was a difficult decision for him.

    I call BULLS@IT.

    Spector does what’s best for Spector.


    Money … always follow the money.

  3. […] Moore, writing at a labor union site, notes that Specter’s top career donor is the law firm of Blank Rome […]

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