The guy Mitt Romney thinks he’s running against sounds fearsome. On a Sunday night conference call with voters in Iowa, Romney warned that President Obama is hell-bent on “forcing people to join unions that don’t want to.” Not only is this entirely false, but even the less-scary thing it’s based on doesn’t add up.
Twice during the 30 minute phone call, Romney raised the spectre of President Obama and Democrats reintroducing the Employee Free Choice Act, which was last introduced in 2009.
EFCA would have introduced “card check” votes in the workplace, making it easier for employees to decide whether or not to unionize. If 50 percent of workers sign a statement of support of organizing, that union would be granted bargaining power with the employer. The bill would strip employers of their ability to force their workers into a full union organizing election if they don’t like the results of a signature campaign [...]
EFCA does not force anyone to do anything. It simply gives workers the ability to more easily organize themselves into a union if a majority of them choose to do so.
I think the “last introduced in 2009″ part offers a tell as to how big a concern this is for the President and his party. Democrats dropped any pretense of passing the Employee Free Choice Act almost immediately upon President Obama’s election. His Administration never moved in that direction, and frankly they wouldn’t have found the votes either among the not-so-union-friendly outer edges of the Democratic caucus, the votes that would have been needed for passage. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor were not voting for EFCA as the Senators from Wal-Mart. Likewise for Evan Bayh or Ben Nelson or about a half-dozen others. At the baseline, EFCA wasn’t going to happen, and the President did nothing to try and bargain with or move members of his own party into that position in any way.
In fact, some elements of the labor movement have become so desperate in the wake of a coordinated assault on their rights from the upper echelons of the Democratic Party that they have begun to feel out Republicans:
As these traditional political alliances have shifted, teachers’ unions have pursued some strange bedfellows among lawmakers who would not appear to be natural allies.
In Illinois, the top three recipients of political contributions from the Illinois Education Association this year are Republicans, including a candidate for the State House who has Tea Party support and advocates lower taxes and smaller government.
William Seitz, a prominent Republican state senator in Ohio who is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business-backed group, has received more money this year from the Ohio Education Association than any other donor.
Teachers’ unions in Georgia and Texas have also donated to the campaigns of numerous Republicans, and the Indiana State Teachers Association shocked Democrats this year when it decided to endorse a fiscally conservative Republican who once helped write a resolution to eliminate property taxes, a typical source of financing for public schools.
I don’t think this is really going to work, but it’s a symbol of how unions have split with traditional alliances, in part over the fact that Democrats refused to move their signature legislation forward.
So I’m supposed to be frightened, as a median voter, that Democrats will launch an all-out pro-union agenda if they get back into office in 2013?
Again, Mitt Romney’s imaginary candidate often bears little resemblance to the genuine article.
pic via DonkeyHotey at flickr.com