Friday, March 09, 2007

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (3/9/07)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.


Union organizing. The House passed, 241-185, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 800) that would enable workers to vote for union representation by signing cards, with the union authorized as soon as a majority declares support. This method would replace the existing lengthy, secret-ballot election process.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.) and Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
This is the Employee Free Choice Act, the subject of this editorial in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (passage is another shining moment for the new U.S. House, with Repugs Pitts and Gerlach being obstructionist as usual).

Illegal workers. The House defeated, 225-202, a Republican proposal to require unions to prove that workers signing union cards under HR 800 (above) are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Gerlach and Pitts.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Saxton, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.
Nice try, wingnuts (I gave Castle more credit than to support nonsense like this – enforce similar regulations for employers first).

Union 'salting.' The House defeated, 264-164, a Republican amendment to HR 800 (above) outlawing 'salting,' the practice of pro-union workers joining a company payroll mainly to organize a union or, failing that, to generate unfair-labor charges.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent and Pitts.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Saxton, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.
Yep, this was a pretty brainless amendment also (and kudos to Chris Smith on all three votes, as well as LoBiondo and Saxton - God, I wish Smith weren't such a rabid anti-choicer, because he does other good things).

This link provides more, particularly this excerpt…

The employers will argue that by salting, unions are being "deceitful". Nothing could be further from the truth. Employers are always spying on their workers (even to the point of hiring specialists to pose as difficult "customers" in order to "test" a worker's "loyalty" to the company, or encouraging favoritism by having one worker spy on another). Because the employing class has a well documented history of using deceitful tactics (including lies and intimidation) to undermine (legally protected) union organizing efforts by workers, salting is how workers can fight back against repressive and often illegal union busting tactics.
Besides, even if this amendment had passed somehow, how do you “outlaw” the practice of “salting”? If someone were to be hired but had no prior union affiliation, but then somehow acquired it after hire for the purposes of organizing a union where none existed before, could the employer then terminate this person, charging they were a “salt” without providing proof?


Cargo scanning. Senators killed, 58-38, a bid to set a five-year deadline for the Department of Homeland Security to achieve 100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound maritime cargo for weapons. The amendment was offered to a pending bill (S 4) implementing several recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

A yes vote was to kill the amendment.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
For someone who has rightly advocated so much for cargo screening via rail (near the bottom of this linked article), I am baffled as to why Carper would vote against the same thing for cargo shipped over water. I can’t determine a reason for this at the moment.

This week, the House took up committee budgets and bills on safe drinking water; the Senate continued to debate the bill implementing 9/11 Commission recommendations.

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