The Labor & Employment Blog is a forum for practitioners and Bloomberg BNA editors to share ideas, raise issues, and network with colleagues.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
by Michael Rose
All eyes were on the Republican National Convention in Tampa
last week, as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney officially accepted his party's
nomination for president. Along with the convention, of
course, was the unveiling of the party's 2012 platform, which
contains several labor-related items that haven't gotten as much attention as some of the platform's other planks.
As we reported in Daily Labor Report, the latest statement of
party policy did not say anything about whether workers should be
free to choose whether or not to join a union and bargain
collectively. In 2008, by contrast, the party affirmed the right of
workers to unionize, as well as the right of states to enact right-to-work
But the 2012 platform not only
encouraged the enactment of right-to-work laws at the state level,
it advocated for such a law at the national level, the first time
that proposal has surfaced from the GOP. Right-to-work laws make it illegal to require the payment of union dues or fees as a condition of employment, and have been supported by many GOP governors and members of Congress.
In addition, the platform said the Obama administration had "antiquated notions of
confrontation and concentrating power in the Washington offices of
union elites," specifically citing the administration's support for
the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, which failed in Congress two years
ago and would have made it easier for unions to organize. The GOP also disapproved of the administration's encouragement of the use of project labor agreements on federal
As many observers have pointed out, there are various
differences between the party's platform and Gov. Romney's
positions, so it's still unclear what stances a Romney administration
would take on labor issues. But it's probably safe to assume a
Romney Labor Department wouldn't have as close a relationship with
unions as the current one - Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the
daughter of an International Brotherhood of Teamsters member,
frequently praises the role of unions in a healthy economy.
As the Democratic convention gets underway this week in
Charlotte, labor likely will play something of a more understated role than
it has at past Democratic conclaves. Many union officials have been
less than thrilled that the convention is being held in a
right-to-work state, in a city with no unionized hotels. But at
least a few union leaders will be there as active participants: James P.
Hoffa, Teamsters president, is a convention delegate from
Michigan, and both United Auto Workers President Bob King and Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry are scheduled to address delegates tonight.
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