Romney Accuses Obama of Pandering to Big Labor
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The Fiscal Times
April 13, 2012

Mitt Romney bashed Rick Santorum  in Wisconsin earlier this month for being too soft on labor unions, and succeeded in knocking his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination out of the primary and then out of the race.

As he now  turns his full attention to President Obama and  the general election campaign, the former Massachusetts governor and business man will likely turn up the volume of his anti-union rhetoric as he critiques what he claims are the failures of the administration’s economic and jobs policies.

Whether it’s berating the president as a “crony capitalist” for bailing out the U.S. auto industry at the behest of auto workers, speaking out in favor of “right to work” laws or claiming the president stacked the National Labor Relations Board with labor “stooges,” Romney appears determined to burnish  his conservative and pro-business bonafides by challenging organized labor. "I've taken on union bosses before," Romney told Midwestern audiences.  "I'm happy to take them on again."

Romney, a native of Michigan and the son of the late governor and auto executive George Romney, says that while unions made important contributions in obtaining protection and benefits for workers, today they too often “drive up costs and introduce rigidities that harm competitiveness and frustrate innovation”

The “card check” bill, if passed, would have stripped workers of the right to a secret ballot on whether to unionize their work place.

Throughout the primary season, Romney cast himself as the chief nemesis of organized labor, as he attempted to broaden his appeal to anti-union conservatives.  He denounced Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, as “Big Labor’s favorite senator” for voting against a right to work proposal that would have stopped the mandatory deduction of union dues, while supporting preservation of the Davis Bacon Act requiring the federal government to pay contractors higher “prevailing wages.”

Romney launched similar salvos against the president, particularly over Obama’s co-sponsorship in the Senate of a 2007 “card check” bill that, if passed, would have stripped workers of the right to a secret ballot on whether to unionize their work place. He also contended that Obama appointed “Big Labor cronies” to the NLRB where they have “wreaked havoc on the law and hurt the employment climate. 

A major case in point: An effort by  the NLRB’s top lawyer to retaliate against the Boeing Company for alleged union busting tactics by blocking the company’s plans to move production of its new Dreamliner planes from Everett, Wash., to a new plant in  Charleston, South Carolina. Boeing Executive Vice President Michael Luttig blasted the ruling as "frivolous" and vowed to fight it in court.

Washington Editor and D.C. Bureau Chief Eric Pianin is a veteran journalist who has covered the federal government, congressional budget and tax issues, and national politics. He spent over 25 years at The Washington Post.