June 6th, 2010
01:05 PM ET
10 years ago

Halter coy on union issues

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has benefited from the support of unions targeting his primary opponent Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has benefited from the support of unions targeting his primary opponent Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

(CNN) – Even though his upstart Democratic primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln has been powered by union support, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter was coy Sunday when asked about his union backing and the Employee Free Choice Act (or “card check” bill), a piece of legislation backed by some of the country’s largest and most influential unions.

Halter has the been the beneficiary of unions’ ire directed at Lincoln for her failure to support passage of the card check bill and for her decision not to support a public insurance option as part of Democrats’ health care bill. Unions favor the card check bill because they believe it will make it easier for workers to unionize and, for many years, unions have been concerned about the rising costs of health care because of the role those costs have played in their collective bargaining with employers.

Lincoln and former President Bill Clinton, who backs the incumbent senator, have criticized the union involvement in Arkansas’ politics – involvement that has included millions of dollars in advertising buys, a flood of mail pieces, and aggressive canvassing efforts all intended to take down Lincoln.

Related: 'I'm up against a lot,' says Lincoln

Asked by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley about the union involvement and the criticism it has received, Halter called the topic a “diversion from the real issues” in his race against Lincoln.

“The real issue in this race is who’s going to stand up for middle class Arkansas families,” Halter said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Halter added, “Now I know that the national media wants to put this into a left-right framework because that’s a very simple thing to pull down. But really what’s going on in the state is very different from that.”

“ . . . And, so, this whole left-right framework candidly – if you went down the street here in Arkansas and ask folks about it, they’re not going to tell you that, that’s what the race is about.”

Asked whether he supports passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, Halter chose instead to delineate a set of principles he backs.

“I’ve said very clearly the principles I support when it comes to this legislation,” he told Crowley, “which is to have democratic [union] elections, to have them be [by] secret ballot, to have [the elections] sped up and to increase the penalties for either side if they attempt to coerce workers.”

“Card check itself, Candy, if you talk to the labor leadership itself, they’ll tell you they’re not even seeking a vote on that legislation.”

Asked again by Crowley whether he would support the Employee Free Choice Act, Halter reiterated his earlier answer.

“I’ve given you the principles that I will support,” he said.

Halter added, “The old card check provision is no longer on the table and I have that directly from the folks who are involved in the negotiations.”

In Arkansas’ May 18 Senate Democratic primary, Lincoln secured 44 percent of the vote to Halter’s 42 percent while a third candidate garnered 13 percent of the ballots cast.

Because no one exceeded the 50 percent threshold, Lincoln and Halter have continued to square off for primary runoff election Tuesday. The Lincoln-Halter race is being closely watched by political observers as another possible indicator, should Halter prove victorious, of the public’s anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, anti-establishment mood during this midterm election year.

Filed under: 2010 • Arkansas • Bill Halter • State of the Union
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Pkm

    The gop has always tried to kill the unions they want to get rid of over time pay they hate the poor

    June 6, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Mike

    I thought Lincoln was a bad senator but this clown would be worse. He is a flaming liberal who supports unions controlling the voting by watching how people vote otherwise known as card check. The unions once had a place in business but they have destroyed more businesses with their out of control pension funds, overblown heath care insurance and pay increases that can only be dreamed about by the general population.

    June 6, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. The Truth, Please...I Just Want The Truth

    There wouldn't be a middle class in this country if it wasn't for our unions. The destruction of organized labor, which is what the right wants, would result in the destruction of our middle class as well.

    Why is it that so many on the right can't stand it when blue-collar workers make a wage they can actually live on, yet support a chief embezelling officer's (aka CEO's) right to pay themselves an unlimited amount of money in salaries and bonuses?

    June 6, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. curious steve, boston, ma

    arkansas will get what it deserves.

    June 6, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. Pragmatic

    Lying to to voters, ducking and dodging, before he's even elected. Guess it saves time when you elected the already corrupt – like Rubio (currently being investigated by the IRS for campaign money fraud)

    June 6, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. Obama the liar

    these union goons must be stopped or it will end up socialism gone wild and continue the destruction of this once great Nation.

    June 6, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. jrr1948

    Arkansas goes Republican in November if Halter wins Dem nomination!

    June 6, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. aranhas

    Unions, unions, unions. When will even the unions wake up to the fact that their kids and grandkids will be groveling in garbage cans because the unions have used political muscle to elect spineless wimps whose only thought is to be a senator or congressman and who do not care if their entitlement programs bring this country down. Unions are the new Muslims. Let's make union membership the same as terrorist membership. I was a union member for 30 years. Not by choice. Forced to pay my weekly dues to people I disliked and who were incompetent.

    June 6, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |