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Democrats' Big Labor Problem

6:02 PM, Apr 1, 2008 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
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Could labor issues hurt Democrats this election? According to new survey data from McLaughlin & Associates and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, Democrats may suffer at the polls if labor issues like the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) become big election issues.

EFCA would change the way that unions are organized, replacing a workers' right to a federally supervised, secret ballot with a new system in which workers simply sign a card--allowing the unions and their workers to see how each member voted. Generally, Democrats support EFCA, while Republicans oppose it--which is no surprise, given that unions also support EFCA and provide vital financial and organizational support to Democratic candidates. But the McLaughlin survey data--discussed in a conference call with reporters today--shows that most voters in three key U.S. Senate races this year are against EFCA.

McLaughlin surveyed likely voters in Colorado, Maine, and Minnesota. In all three states, about two-thirds (68 percent in Colorado, 72 percent in Maine, and 65 percent in Minnesota) oppose EFCA, and over 70 percent in all three say that "having a federally supervised secret and private ballot election is the best way to protect workers' rights when organizing a union." The Democrats may be okay if EFCA doesn't become a major issue, but if it does, they have reason to worry: 44 percent of Colorado voters and 41 percent of Minnesota voters say they would be less likely to vote for the Democratic Senate candidate if he supports EFCA. And both (Mark Udall in Colorado and Al Franken in Minnesota) do. (In Maine, Republican candidate and EFCA opponent Susan Collins has a strong lead.)

What's worse news for Democrats? Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama strongly support EFCA.