With renewed support from the White House, labor officials said Wednesday they are confident that legislation making it easier to unionize workplaces will pass Congress this year.
President Barack Obama offered some of his most supportive comments for the Employee Free Choice Act since he took office this week, telling AFL-CIO members in a videotaped message Tuesday that he will work to pass the bill.
‘As we confront this crisis and work to provide health care to every American, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, move toward a clean energy economy and pass the Employee Free Choice Act, I want you to know that you will always have a seat at the table,’ Obama told the federation as it held its winter meeting in Miami Beach.
Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s legislative director, dismissed speculation that some Democratic supporters may waver under pressure from business groups.
‘There are some members who prefer to sort of stay behind the curtain, as it were, until the vote is closer,’ Samuel told reporters in a conference call. ‘I’m not surprised there are some signals being sent that might sound confusing, but we’re very confident.’
Samuel said he expects the long-anticipated bill to be introduced ‘in days or weeks’ and a vote as early as sometime this spring.
Union leaders believe this year offers the best chance in a generation for wholesale reform of labor laws that, after years of decline, would swell the ranks of organized labor — now about 12 percent of the work force — by millions of new members.
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