(CNSNews.com) - Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, took a swipe at Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) Tuesday, calling the senators “terrorists” for their opposition to the card-check bill, which Democrats call the Employee Free Choice Act.
“There are a lot of terrorists in the Senate who think we are supposed to negotiate with them when they have their particular needs that they want met,” Stern told Bloomberg News. His comments, which appeared in BusinessWeek magazine, apparently were prompted by the senators' reluctance to support the union-sponsored bill.
Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, which opposes the card-check legislation, roundly criticized Stern over the comments.
“My first reaction after hearing Andy Stern’s comments comparing the senators to ‘terrorists’ was that I was initially speechless,” Packer told CNSNews.com. “It’s unthinkable the images evoked in my head when I think of the word. To accuse someone in the Senate of being a ‘terrorist’ for sticking up for their constituents is unbelievable.”
Packer added: “Mr. Stern ought to lose his job over these comments, and at minimum he should lose his access to the West Wing,” referring to the release of the first visitor log by the White House, which, ironically, listed Andy Stern as the most frequent visitor.
Packer added: “I’m surprised this hasn’t received much media attention. Could you imagine if this were someone on the other side of the aisle who made these statements? The media would be all over it.”
When CNSNews.com contacted SEIU for clarification of Stern's comments, a union spokeswoman responded: “They weren’t the best words for Mr. Stern to use, and he does regret it.”
Union pressure to pass a card-check bill began in earnest a year ago, but the legislation has since taken a back seat to the health-care reform and “cap-and-trade” energy bill debates.
Under the proposed legislation, if union organizers can get a majority of workers to sign union authorization cards, the union is immediately recognized in the workplace, with no further discussion or debate -- and no secret ballot election.
Opponents claim the legislation would bypass free and fair union elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board and could be used to intimidate and coerce workers into signing cards that would authorize the formation of a union.
Unions claim the National Labor Relations Act already allows unions to call for card checks, and that employers frequently intimidate workers to keep unions out.