October 08, 2012
Credit: Credit: MSNBC
Jen DiMascio and Madhu Unnikrishnan Washington
A bruising battle over a multi-year aviation policy bill may have settled a fight over how airline workers organize, but new fights over the rights of workers to form unions are on the horizon, as the presidential election is proving to be a referendum on organized labor.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign may lack specifics in certain policy areas, but that cannot be said about labor policy. His platform contains eight different items geared toward bolstering the hand of management, including specifically supporting states in pursuing “right-to-work” laws.
With Romney's support for states that allow for non-union shops, along with a history at Bain Capital of outsourcing jobs, transportation unions are launching a nation-wide grassroots campaign to reelect President Obama, whose administration helped American Airlines' workers save their pensions.
“We think this is the biggest no-brainer election for anyone who works in transportation that we have ever seen,” says Ed Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department. “If you read the Republican Party platform, it reads like a how-to manual of how to break unions.”
In a town hall meeting early this year, Romney accused the president of “paying back” organized labor by appointing “union stooges” to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). “The decision that Boeing can't build a factory in South Carolina because it is a pro-worker, right-to-work state is simply wrong,” Romney said.
After the machinists union that had objected to the aerospace manufacturer's moving work from Washington state reached a deal with the company that ensured jobs would remain in the Pacific Northwest, the NLRB dropped its case against Boeing.
According to his campaign materials, Romney would instead appoint to the NLRB “experienced individuals with respect for the rule of law.”