New York is still a big labor state despite years of declining activity. That decrease in membership is attributable to years of anti-union legislation brought on by conservatives (in both parties) that put Corporate America ahead of the working and middle class. Yet in New York, local politicians have generally supported unions, even on the Republican side. Congressman Peter King of Long Island tried favoring unions in spite of his party's leadership in Washington.
Now organizations like the AFL-CIO and SEIU among others are pushing to enact the best pro-union legislation in decades. Yet Peter King, who had initially voiced his support for his union friends, has now flipped on them. The unions are predictably pissed off.
Long Island labor-union organizers, reacting to Rep. Peter King's about-face on the proposed Employees Free Choice Act, are planning to demonstrate at his district office tomorrow in Massapequa Park. Unions say they back the proposal, which King supported and even helped sponsor in the past, as a way to make it easier for them to organize using only card signatures. King has said that economic conditions of the moment make it a bad idea. President Obama is expected to sign the measure if it reaches his desk. The demonstrators are expected to wave -- you guessed it -- flip flops decrying King's new position. King's withdrawal of support came prior to the same move by Sen. Arlen Specter -- the Pennsylvania Republican who created national shockwaves Tuesday by quitting the GOP for the Democrats. (Will he switch back now?)Of course King isn't the first politican to go back on his EFCA support but every lost vote is an important one. With every other issue getting more play in the news, unions and their advocates have not been able to make enough of an impact on legislators and their tenuous feeling on helping the rights of workers wanting to unionize. With enough pressure, this movement can get back on its feet and make sure Congress passes, and the President signs the legislation.