Politics

Arlen Specter: Union Stooge

As Pennsylvania’s white-hot GOP Senate primary nears the finish line today, the National Right to Work Committee (NRTW) is making a final effort to inform voters that Rep. Pat Toomey outpaces Sen. Arlen Specter by three or four lengths on compulsory unionism, union violence, and related matters of concern to wage earners.

“Starting Monday morning, we have been contacting by phone NRTW members in Pennsylvania and possibly other identified supporters to remind them of the positions of the candidates on right-to-work-related issues,” says NRTW Vice-President Stefan Gleason. The group will try to reach out and touch at least 65,000 people.

“Each of NRTW’s owned and operated telemarketing facilities can dial up to 9,000 phone calls per hour and is manned by up to 60 live operators,” Gleason says. “The main criterion for activating our membership is the fact that there is a clear distinction on the issues between the candidates. And the legislative program has a lot to gain or lose depending on the result. And obviously that is the case here.”

The supply-side-oriented, fiscally responsible Toomey already contrasts dramatically with Specter, the tax-hiking free-spender who has been in the Senate since 1981. When it comes to keeping workers free from union coercion, Toomey and Specter, not surprisingly, see things very differently.

“In six years as a U.S. congressman, Pat Toomey never has let America’s workers down on compulsory unionism,” says Doug Stafford, also an NRTW vice-president. “Pat Toomey has a long record of support for right to work and opposition to forced unionism. He pledged to continue that if he is elected as the next U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and pledged 100 % opposition to forced unionism in his candidate’s survey.”

As for Specter, Stafford says, “Through the whole series of letters, he refused to repudiate his record of support for forced unionism. He even tried to hide his views from the people of Pennsylvania by not answering the survey at all. Unfortunately for him, his record speaks for itself.”

And what a record it is! NRTW’s August 2002 newsletter highlighted Specter’s chores as errand boy to Big Labor:

  • Specter was one of only four GOP senators to help 50 Democrats and independent James Jeffords of Vermont kill an amendment by Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell to require union presidents and secretary-treasurers to certify the accuracy of their financial statements. The July 2002 measure also would have made unions audit their financial-disclosure reports using the same guidelines that apply to publicly traded corporations.
  • In 2001, Specter was one of the few Republicans to support a proposal by then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D †¦quot;S. D.) to impose “exclusive” or monopoly collective bargaining on state and local firefighters and cops across America.
  • In 1994 and 1992, Specter voted for Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy’s so-called Pushbutton Strike Bill that essentially would have forced many companies to choose between accepting union demands during strikes or shutting their doors. Filibusters by pro-right-to-work senators killed Kennedy’s bill both times. In 1994, Specter was one of only three GOP senators to embrace Kennedy’s legislation.
  • In 1986, Specter helped stop S. 1774, a bill that would have closed the stranger-than-fiction legal loophole that still exempts union violence from prosecution under the federal Hobbs Act, so long as the thuggery advances “legitimate union objectives.” Specter still opposes efforts to end Washington’s wink-and-nod attitude on strike-related union mayhem. If he were re-elected and rose to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, such brutality likely would continue to be tolerated by federal prosecutors.

    These and many other pro-union votes have helped Specter earn a 62% lifetime favorable rating from the AFL-CIO. Toomey, hewing these free-market principles, scores a 9% lifetime rating.

    While Toomey’s detractors — including Pennsylvania’s other GOP senator, Rick Santorum — claim that the Allentown congressman is too conservative to win statewide, Keystone State voters keep reelecting Santorum despite his lifetime AFL CIO rating of 12% . This score is not far off the 9% percent mark set by the “unelectable” Toomey, who was, in fact, re-elected in November 2000, even as Al Gore beat G.W. Bush in Toomey’s House district.

    Sadly for Specter, today’s vote is open only to GOP voters. So, it is unlikely that many of his Democratic-leaning union pals will cast ballots for him.


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