By Sam Hananel ASSOCIATED PRESS
Labor’s high hopes for major gains under President Obama and a Democratic Congress have dimmed, raising fresh doubts about union leverage even in the best of political times.
Prospects for a health overhaul have faded. Even slimmer are the chances of achieving labor’s chief goal, passage of a bill making it easier for unions to organize workers. A bipartisan jobs bill passed this week by the Senate drew tepid praise from the AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka, who called it a “Band-Aid on an amputated limb” – far short of what unions wanted.
This wasn’t what unions expected a year ago after spending more than $400 million to help elect Mr. Obama and increase the size of Democratic majorities in the Senate and House.
Leaders of labor’s largest federation will try to figure out how to refocus their political agenda when they begin their annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., on Monday.
Another setback came in January when two Senate Democrats joined Republicans in blocking the appointment of labor lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Mr. Becker has worked for the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Republicans have said they fear Mr. Becker would push the board to require companies to recognize unions if they can get a simple majority of employees to sign union cards – the same “card check” measure that’s stalled in Congress.
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