Last week, I questioned whether organized labor can trust Tarryl Clark due to inconsistencies in her record. Of particular concern is her admission that as a former Republican she voted for the union-busting Ronald Reagan, not once but twice. A closer examination of Clark's record reveals that she has refused to take a stand on the number one legislative priority of organized labor, the Employee Free Choice Act, which she dismisses as "not the big issue."
Under the current system, employers can intimidate, harass and fire employees who want to join the union and can stall negotiations to deny workers their first contract after voting to unionize. According to AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, the Employee Free Choice Act does the following:
It takes the choice of having a union away from the employer, which is where it is right now, and gives it to the employee. It would restore balance to a system that’s terribly broken….Our economy is two-thirds driven by consumer spending, but over the last 30 years, the system has caused workers’ wages to stagnate. This will give them the right to bargain collectively….It’ll strengthen the middle class, it’ll grow the economy, and it’ll close the wage gap between the very rich and the rest of us.
The EFCA is so important to organized labor that a dozen trade unions refuse to attend the 2012 Democratic National Convention because it's being held in North Carolina, a right to work (for less) state.
It is shocking, then, to watch DFLer Tarryl Clark tap dance around the issue during this St Cloud Chamber of Commerce debate with Michele Bachmann and Bob Anderson in 2010:
I've always had good working relationship with our business community and with labor. I want to work with both sides to be sure we have a level playing field for business and for our employees... a much bigger issue right now for our businesses and our employees is this continual outsourcing of our jobs... this is not the big issue in front of us, what the big issue is, is how we're going to get back to creating jobs.
The EFCA is the number one issue for organized labor, one that goes to the very heart and soul of trade unionism itself, and Tarryl Clark not only refuses to state she supports it, but says its not a big deal.
Even her opponents tried to get her to answer the question, but to no avail. It is not surprising, since Clark didn't call for passage of the EFCA even while addressing the AFL-CIO convention, choosing instead to make only a blanket statement about workers rights and collective bargaining:
Clark's refusal to take a stand on the Employee Free Choice Act is inexcusable and unacceptable. Indeed, Trumka makes it quite clear there is no equivocating on this issue; if you are not with us, you are against us:
When it comes to politics, we're looking for real champions of working women and men. And I have a message for some of our "friends." It doesn't matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside—the outcome is the same either way. If leaders aren't blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families' interests, working people will not support them. This is where our focus will be—now, in 2012 and beyond.
Clarks website says "stand up with me" but when it comes to organized labor, Tarryl Clark is clearly standing aside.