Hours after he was seated, Sen. Al Franken, D-MN, let it be known that he would be sign on as a co-sponsor to the Employee Free Choice Act, the labor-backed provision that would allow unions to more easily organize, as his first legislative activity.
"I just became a cosponsor of my first bill in the Senate, the Employee Free Choice Act," the Minnesota Democrat declared at a gathering at the AFL-CIO on Tuesday evening.
Despite taking a backseat in terms of media attention, EFCA remains very much a hotly-debated measure within the halls of Congress. And while Franken's vote will likely boost Democratic efforts on health care and judicial nominations (he is poised to sit on the HELP and Judiciary Committees) it could be on labor matters where his voice is most felt. Certainly the union community, which is pushing for a vote on EFCA sometime this year, feels relieved that it is one senator closer to preventing a Republican filibuster on the measure.
Franken, who was officially sworn into office on Tuesday after an eight-month recount, told the AFL-CIO crowd that he shared common interests with them. According to Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the union group, Franken described the long tradition that exist in Minnesota of "having two Senators who are very pro workers and working families."
"He said it was an honor to be sworn in today and walk through the aisles with Mondale and to be sworn in on Paul Wellstone's Bible," Vale recounted. "He stressed that both men were champions of the labor movement."