The following is a message from Michael Adelizzi, Executive Vice President of the American Supply Association, to the membership.

The following is a message from Michael Adelizzi, Executive Vice President of the American Supply Association, to the membership.

Sometimes, it’s hard not to get swept-up in all of the media hype and union bravado over their muscle flexing after helping Democrats gain control of the U.S. House, Senate and the White House. However, the reality is that all of the pressure is on them. After spending millions of dollars in the last two election cycles to elect Democratic officials, the unions still can’t guarantee victory on this issue. And, history is not on their side.

With the 2010 election cycle already underway and historic trends that indicate Republicans will most likely make some inroads in chipping away at the Democrat majorities in those elections, it’s ‘do or die’ for the unions and their allies in the Congress to pass this legislation this year. Fortunately, there is a small group of motivated Republican Senators and a business community that is gearing up for a big fight.

The American Supply Association and our members throughout the PHCP and PVF industries constitute one of those motivated business communities that has been engaged in the fight against the passage of the union-backed Employee Free Choice Act, commonly known as ‘Card Check’, for a few years. Today, according to numbers on the ASA advocacy site, ASA members have generated nearly 1,000 letters to Congress voicing their opposition, and this number continues to rise as more members and their key executives, managers and employees begin to get involved.

Despite ASA’s long-standing involvement on this issue, the fight is actually just beginning. On Tuesday, March 10th, House and Senate Democrats introduced The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409 in the House and S. 560 in the Senate), which signals the beginning of the debate over EFCA. The most important vote - the cloture vote in the Senate - is not yet imminent, and by most experts, probably will not occur until May. However, the cloture vote can be called at any time depending on Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, who has been busy signing co-sponsors to the bill. To date, there are 40 co-sponsors in the Senate and 225 in the House. The far more important questions are when will EFCA actually be considered, and what should all of us do in anticipation of the bill’s consideration in Congress.

Clearly, the battle over this issue will take place in the U.S. Senate, which is where the only hope to defeat this bill exists through a Republican-led filibuster. The ongoing rumor is that the moderately-conservative ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats in the House want the vote to occur in the Senate first, so that if it is successfully blocked as a result of a Republican-led filibuster, then moderately-conservative House Democrats will be ‘let off the hook’ from having to cast a vote that may cost them voter support in the 2010 general election. It is a foregone conclusion that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8) has the votes to pass Card Check in the House, and she will most likely wait for the Senate to act first.

While Card Check has already been introduced, we know that the unions are highly unlikely to make a serious push for a Senate vote until the Minnesota Senate contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken is resolved. Other questions regarding Senator Kennedy’s health and availability to vote as well as whether Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) will remain in the Senate also come into play. The bottom line is that the unions need every Democratic vote they can get if they are to have a chance at breaking a Republican-led filibuster.

It remains critically important that all ASA members ramp-up our collective efforts to generate opposition to this bill. In fact, the efforts of grassroots networks are having an impact in targeted states and Congressional districts. Specifically, four states are targeted: Louisiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Virginia are states with legislators who will cast key swing votes. There is no magic to this effort; it requires old-fashioned lobbying and grassroots work.

To date, ASA:

  • Actively participates in the coalition of allied organizations working in concert to defeat this legislation;

  • Provided enhanced online advocacy resources that make it very easy for wholesalers and manufacturers to act;

  • Heightened awareness among all professionals in the industry by disseminating educational information to the industry Press;

  • Issued legislative alerts to ASA members prompting them to write nearly 1,000 letters to their elected representatives in Washington, DC;

  •  Expanded support for this issue by reaching out to industry partners that are not members of ASA;

  • Scheduled a joint legislative fly-in on April 29-30th with ACCA, HARDI and PHCC for members to lobby directly on this issue;

  • Prepared a massive and targeted phone campaign to lobby key Senators once the vote is called; and

  • Prepared an industry-wide e-mail campaign that asks everyone to write to their Senators and encourage them to vote ‘NO TO END CLOTURE’ when the Senate cloture vote is imminent.

The point of this message is to say, “Don’t panic!”The bill may be introduced next week or next month. Until then, our industry still has some time before the key cloture vote in the Senate, BUT time will run out.Please, don’t wait to engage on this issue; your help is needed NOW to ensure that Card Check legislation does not become law.

Thank you very much for your attention to this information, and please do not hesitate tocontact ASAwith questions about this or any other issue.

Michael Adelizzi