Card Check under fire in the Senate

According to the Wall Street Journal, several Democratic senators are balking at the Holy Grail of labor legislation - the so called Employee Freedom of Choice Act which is anything but. The legislation would outlaw the secret ballot in labor votes and give unions other advantages in negotiations with management.

Four senators may decide the bill's fate; three Democrats and Republican Arlen Specter:

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor are among the Democratic lawmakers who have backed off their previous support.

An aide for Sen. Landrieu said the senator is carefully reviewing the issue. "She understands that it is a heated debate and wants to make an informed decision" in part by meeting with groups on both sides.

Sen. Pryor said in a statement that "this legislation is not perfect, and while I have been supportive in the past, I will consider amendments to make it better if and when it is considered by the Senate." Like Sen. Lincoln, Sen. Pryor said there are more pressing issues relating to the economy that the Senate should be addressing, one of his aides said Monday.

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is another key member who is wavering. Though he voted with Democrats in 2007, he now says, "I'm still thinking about it." He added, "I'm being lobbied on it very, very heavily."

Several of the lawmakers face tough re-election races in 2010, or represent states with few unionized workers. Mrs. Lincoln is running for re-election in a state that Mr. Obama lost, 59% to 39%. Mr. Specter could face a more conservative Republican in a primary in Pennsylvania next year.

Business groups have spent a ton of money already running ads against the bill. They are targeting Pryor's Arkansas as well as Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado.

It was an easy vote in 2007 because everyone knew that Bush would veto the measure if it ever reached his desk. Now, with reality staring them in the face, senators are having their feet held to the fire by both labor and business.

At the moment, it could be a dead issue because the Democrats appear a few votes short of a filibuster proof 60 senators in favor of the bill. But labor has a lot of money and can make a lot of noise against reluctant Democrats. With that kind of raw power, anything is possible.