There's a lot at stake for Teamsters, our families and the nation's middle class
Nov. 5, 2012 | Mitt Romney tauts himself as one of the strongest anti-union candidates in history, and proof of that is in his roadmap to dismantle workers' rights. His anti-union agenda includes supporting states pursuing right-to-work laws which make negotiating contracts more difficult while lowering wages and eliminating benefits. Last February Romney's campaign said: "Once upon a time, labor unions fought to secure important protections for American workers and help our economy grow. Unfortunately, today they too often stand as obstacles to growth and fight against the workers they are supposed to serve." Romney also said he would sign a national right-to-work law if it came across his desk.
He would amend the National Labor Relations Act to guarantee the secret ballot in every union certification election (killing card-check neutrality), and further amend it to guarantee that all organizing campaigns last at least one month (providing more time for employer anti-union campaigns). He'll prohibit the right of union members to use payroll deductions for political purpose which would take away workers' rights to political free speech (think Maryland Teamsters PAC and D.R.I.V.E.).
The Romney/Ryan ticket has doubled down in their hostility to unions and would continue to slash and burn collective bargaining. (Remember what anti-worker Republicans have done in Anne Arundel County, and in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.) Romney/Ryan would restrict what they consider OSHA's "overreaching regulation agenda" which would put workers' safety and health at risk. Worker pensions would be dumped in favor of high-risk retirement savings programs. Campaign for America's Future wrote "the GOP platform mocks workers' pensions as useless artifacts which were "born in an old industrial era beyond the memory of most Americans." Remember too, that Romney has off-shored thousands and thousands of American jobs.
What guarantee do we have that would not continue?
Although we've clashed with President Obama over foreign free trade agreements, budget cuts and the deficit, and his failure to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, he believes the right to organize and collectively bargain with employers is a fundamental American right. Unlike his opponent , President Obama champions the American worker and believes the economy is stronger when collective bargaining rights are protected.
Obama preserved more than 160,000 Teamster and middle class jobs by saving the auto industry. There have been 31 straight months of job growth. He cut taxes for millions of us in the middle class. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), we won't lose our coverage if we get a serious illness, and we don't have to spend out hard-earned wages supporting under-funded drug costs for our parents and grandparents.
President Obama appointed labor advocates to the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board who understand the importance of standing up for workers' rights. He appointed Hilda Solis, daughter of a former Teamster, to be U.S Labor Secretary. And he has opposed any and all right-to-work legislation.
Moving forward, President Obama's goals include creating a million new manufacturing jobs and doubling exports within 2 years, eliminating tax breaks for companies that are shipping our jobs offshore and instead, will offer tax breaks to companies that invest in American products and the workers who produce them. His agenda also includes making it easier for American workers to invest in workplace retirement savings that have portability so you won't lose your pension when you change jobs. And he will continue to oppose right-to-work and paycheck protection legislation efforts.
As Teamsters, our choice is clear.