Mitt Romney has come under fire for his statements saying that right-to-work laws should remain a state issue, even though, as he reiterated here during Sen. Jim DeMint's GOP Presidential Forum, he said that he would sign a national right-to-work law if it came across his desk as President. Romney has also previously had some praise for unions, making similar statements to the one here where he said "unions play an important role in our country." Apparently Romney doesn't think much of that role if you're either talking about government worker's unions, or heaven forbid unions being allowed to have any influence over our politicians and making campaign donations.
Jim DeMint explained what the Republican Party's real issue with unions being involved in our politics is with the way he framed this question to Mitt Romney -- they support Democratic politicians. And of course with all of the corporate money pouring into Republican campaign coffers these days after the Citizens United ruling, no one in the Republican Party wants to see anything remaining to balance that on the left.
Romney said he was concerned about anyone in union leadership being allowed to make decisions for their membership as to who they make campaign donations to, but he doesn't share that concern for the all of the workers in America of varying political affiliations that have their bosses and CEO's making decisions about which politicians to donate to, or that corporations being allowed to buy off our politicians might also be "almost like a form of corruption." No, that's just free speech in Romney-GOP world.
And his criticism of unions and closed shops of course does not address what open shops and these so-called right-to-work laws really are. They are nothing more than a way to bust unions financially because when someone opts out of paying their union dues, those unions are still forced to represent those workers. They're allowed to reap the benefits of union membership without any of the costs for those protections.
Republicans seem fine with the idea of democracy when it comes to electing our politicians and citizens who did not vote for those politicians having to live with the results of their actions. They don't think so highly of democracy in the workplace, where if a majority of the workers want to join a union, they get a union and once that union is in place, everyone contributes to pay for the benefits and wages that are negotiated for them. And where if they don't like the decisions or the actions of the leaders that their union puts in place, they're free to vote them out during the next election, just as we are when we don't like the way our politicians behave.
The GOP has decided that they were going to do an all out assault on labor unions this year, which isn't working out that terribly well for them in places like Wisconsin and Ohio. It appears Romney has decided that it's a good idea to follow their lead. Let's hope it doesn't play too well for him either if he does end up being their presidential nominee. Given Romney's propensity for flip-flopping on issues when it suits him politically, I won't be shocked to see him try to backtrack from some of these statements later.
Transcript via CNN:
DEMINT: Mitt, thanks for being here. Let's start talking about unions. For me it's becoming one of the biggest issues that we're dealing with on the federal level because there's such an insidious relationship between unions and the Democrat Party.
The president and the Democrats are trying to expand government unions at the state and the federal level because of the political support that comes back and we seeing the difficulty at the state level to make the reforms and cut back because of the resistance of government unions.
Where are you on unions? And I'll put it in this context, there's a federal law right now that requires an American to join a union if their work place is unionized. It's only if your state opts out of that law that your people are free not to join a union.
And there are 22 states that have opted out, but there's still a federal law that requires Americans to join unions and we have legislation at the federal level to repeal that with a federal right to work law.
I understand that you've said that's a state issue and the federal government shouldn't be involved. But the federal government is involved because they have the law that requires that.
Where are you on the federal right to work? And what is your opinion about government unions at the federal and state level?
ROMNEY: First of all, what I said was if a right to work piece of legislation reached my desk at the federal level I would sign it.
ROMNEY: And the right course I believe politically at this stage is to have states carry out their own right to work legislation. And as you know, right to work states, those 22 have created three million jobs over the last 10 years. The union states have lost about half a million jobs. So right to work is the way to go if you want good jobs. That's number one.
Government unions -- and unions play an important role in our country and can be -- the Carpenter's union, for instance, trains their people in ways to provide good services when people want to compare in a fair basis, that's great.
When the government has people in unions, it presents a particular problem and there are a couple of ways it presents a problem in my view. When unions are allowed to collect money from members, and then one person, the chief executive of that union could give that to whichever candidate they want, that's simply a violation of the personal rights of that individual, and that shouldn't be allowed.
And number two, I really have the problem with the idea that one person is able to collect money from all their members and then give it to a party or an individual who that person made them be the one that decided on matters of legislation directing that union.
It's almost like a form of corruption. I've got all this money I'm going to elect the person to give me what I want. So the power of unions in influence elections is a real problem and the place I would address it is with legislation saying that individual union members may not have money taken out of their paycheck to go into funds, which can then be directed by an individual in a way that might be different than what they would have preferred themselves. That should not be allowed.