Oregon Democrats Earn High Marks from AFL-CIO

The national AFL-CIO has released a voting report card grading US Senators and Representatives for their record on labor issues, and the Democrats in Oregon's Congressional Delegation have all earned high marks.

From the Northwest Labor Press:

Congressional representatives from Oregon and Washington scored quite well on the national AFL-CIO’s interim Committee on Political Education (COPE) voting report card released last month in Washington, D.C.

The scorecard is a running record of 34 Senate votes and 33 House votes that took place during the first session of the 110th Congress, but it is not the official voting record for 2007. The AFL-CIO labeled lawmakers’ votes as either “right” or “wrong,” based on the position the AFL-CIO took.

Bills — and amendments to bills— included the Employee Free Choice Act, limits on guest worker programs, and federal minimum wage increases. A complete list of votes can be found online at www.aflcio.org under the legislative section.

Oregon Reps. David Wu (1st District); Peter DeFazio (4th District); and Darlene Hooley, (5th District), were among 173 House Democrats to score 100 percent COPE voting records. [Earl] Blumenauer (2nd District) compiled a 30-2-1 scorecard.

Oregon Republican Greg Walden of Cascade Locks (2nd District) scored 33 percent, with a vote tally of 11-22.

Oregon's Democratic US Representatives also have strong lifetime records:

Officially, Rep. Peter DeFazio has the best lifetime AFL-CIO COPE voting record in the Pacific Northwest at 94 percent (221-15). He is followed by Earl Blumenauer at 92 percent (110-10); David Wu at 90 percent (89-10); and Darlene Hooley at 86 percent (100-16). Greg Walden leads Republicans from the Pacific Northwest at 20 percent (20-78).

In the US Senate, Ron Wyden earned high marks from the scorecard, while Gordon Smith earned a good amount of criticism:

In the Pacific Northwest, Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon led the way at 31-2 or 94 percent. Oregon Republican Gordon Smith tallied 51.5 percent (17-16-1). Smith is up for re-election this year.

It should be noted that many of Smith’s “wrong” votes dealt with collective bargaining rights for workers. The most egregious to labor was his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. Labor’s top priority legislation, the bill would have allowed for certification of a union when a majority of workers signed cards designating the union as their bargaining representative (“card check”).

The legislation passed overwhelmingly in the House, and it had enough votes to pass in the Senate, but a Republican filibuster meant backers would need 60 votes to shut it down and move to a vote on the bill. Smith was among the Republicans voting against cloture. He also would have voted against the bill.

Smith also voted against labor on several amendments giving airport screeners greater collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections. In one key vote used in the interim scorecard, Smith and his fellow Republicans — under pressure from the Bush Administration — tried to kill a 9/11 Commission recommendation that simply restored the right of airport screeners to unionize. Republicans lost on a party-line vote in the Democratically-controlled Senate.

Smith again voted opposite labor on another Republican-led filibuster, this one blocking an increase in the federal minimum wage. The so-called “clean increase” again had enough votes to pass in the Senate, but it failed to get the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • Silence Dogood (unverified)

    Employee Free Choice Act? That's the one where folks lose their right to vote in a secret ballot unionization election. Hmmm. The AFL-CIO has long-demanded that U.S. trade agreements require our trading partners to extend this right to workers in their countries. Now it's a throw-away, here? Sorry. No-vote unionization is simply ... anti-democratic. It's just too bad for the rank and file, that power-tripping Democrats are still wholly-owned by union bosses. What a shame. Nobody ever looks out for the little guy.

  • question (unverified)
    <h2>Does anyone want to explain why the Oregon State Firefighters endorsed Smith then? Smith's worst votes are on collective bargaining rights? Merkley shows leadership by helping working Oregonians with card check, employee free choice, firesafe cigarettes, and ranks A+ in the Oregon AFL-CIO scorecard. Merkley singled handedly saves a bill allowing firefighters to bring safety issues into collective bargaining negotiations. Yet, Smith gets endorsement. Someone want to explain why the firefighters bailed on labor?</h2>
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