K Street Files: Mother Nature Vs. Organized Labor

Posted February 2, 2009 at 6:27pm

Throngs of union members are expected to gather on the Capitol grounds Wednesday afternoon to press lawmakers to enact “card check” legislation, a campaign priority of President Barack Obama that would make it easier for workers to organize.

[IMGCAP(1)]Promising to deliver “1.5 million signatures” to lawmakers, rally organizers Change to Win, the AFL-CIO and American Rights at Work are scheduled to meet at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Upper Senate Park, where “workers will tell their personal stories about why [card check] is important to them,” according to a release by the coalition on Monday.

Josh Goldstein, a spokesman for pro-labor group American Rights at Work, said the event will show Members “how many Americans were behind this legislation.” After the rally, Goldstein said 100 workers — one for each Senator — will deliver the signatures, arranged by state, to Senate offices.

Steven Law, the general counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has launched a major offensive to kill the legislation, was skeptical of the effect of Wednesday’s rally. “The unions are going to launch a lot of fireworks this week, but it won’t cover up the fact that Members on both sides of the aisle are increasingly uncomfortable with the card check bill,” he said.

Fenton Communications, known primarily for its work with MoveOn.org, is coordinating press coverage for the event, whose success may ultimately hinge on a fickle Mother Nature.

“No matter what type of event you put on — no matter how big or small — logistically speaking, it’s a huge undertaking,” Goldstein said. But “the biggest challenge we’re going to have logistically is the weather. … Let’s just hope the weather holds up for us.”

Weather forecasts are calling for a high of 31 degrees on Wednesday, with possible snow showers during the day.

And weather forecasters, too, might be the least of all the obstacles standing in the way of an eventual card check bill.

The chamber has begun placing anti-card-check opinion pieces in major newspapers in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Ohio — states with Senators potentially sympathetic to their cause.

K Street Moves. Lee Friedman, aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), joins the National Cable & Telecommunications Association as vice president of government relations.

• The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association has added Kristin Bass to its bench. A former aide to Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), she joins as senior vice president of policy.

• John Sopko, the former chief counsel for oversight and investigations at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a partner.

Anna Palmer contributed to this report.

Submit K Street Files tips here
.