Last week, President Obama spoke to the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council.  The Executive Council has 54 members.  According to the labor organization’s website, the Executive Council is responsible for guiding the daily work of the federation.

President Obama’s speech reportedly covered a number areas, including the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).  In commenting on EFCA, President Obama said:

 "And we are going to keep on fighting to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. (Applause.) […] Getting EFCA through Senate is going to be tough.  It’s always been tough; it will continue to be tough.  We’ll keep on pushing."

Speaking only a few days later, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, followed up on the EFCA message.  In an interview on C-SPAN, Mr. Trumka expressed confidence that EFCA will come up for a vote by the end of this year.  He also reiterated the case for EFCA and defended the AFL-CIO’s heavy campaign spending against Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D.-Ark.), an announced opponent of EFCA.  (See 4:39 and 13:04 on video clip.)

In addition to his comments about EFCA, President Obama also mentioned his appointments to the National Mediation Board.  The NMB is the agency responsible for administering the federal labor laws applicable to railroads and airlines.  President Obama said:

"But our work doesn’t stop there.  I mean, there’s a reason why we nominated people to the National Mediation Board that would ensure that folks in the rail industry and in the air industry were going to end up having a better deal."  

As previously discussed on this blog, the NMB recently changed a rule regarding how elections are conducted.  This rule change made it easier for unions to win organizing campaigns in the railroad and airline sector.  Unions greeted this rule change with enthusiasm, seeking union elections at a number of different airlines.

Not surprisingly, President Obama’s comments have drawn criticism from business.  Interestingly, however, they have not been entirely well-received by some on the other side of the debate.  In this post on the blog FireDogLake, the author sets forth that view.

For the practicing labor professional, this back and forth remains interesting to watch.  It does not appear, however, that legislative action on EFCA is imminent.  The more important developments to monitor — particularly given President Obama’s comments about this agency appointments — will be those coming from the NLRB.