Mitt Romney, with his extensive experience in both business and government, has a keen understanding of labor relations. He recognizes, as he himself has written, that "[a]t their best, labor unions have always fought for the rights of workers, and generations of Americans have been better off for it." But he also
recognizes that the interests of union management can diverge from those of the very workers they purport to serve.
Defend the Free-Enterprise System
As president, Mitt Romney's first step in improving labor policy will be to ensure that our labor laws create a stable and level playing field on which businesses can operate. This means he will appoint to the NLRB experienced individuals with a respect for the law and an even-handed approach to labor relations. Unlike
President Obama's appointees, they would not be former union officials with personal interests in promoting the agenda of their former employers. As they hire, businesses should not have to worry that a politicized federal agency will rewrite the rules of the employment game without warning and without regard for the law.
Romney strongly opposes the NLRB's decision to sue Boeing. It represents one of the worst federal intrusions into the marketplace in recent memory. Even General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, has sharply criticized the agency's action, saying:
"You've got a world-class, high-tech, job-creating force that's coming into South Carolina. I just can't think of one reason why we'd want to slow that down, not one."
As president, Romney will ensure that unaccountable government bureaucrats do not interfere in the job-creating investment decisions of the private sector--by making responsible appointments in the first place, and by supporting legislation to prevent any improper decisions an unaccountable agency might issue. At stake is the essence of the free-enterprise system.
Guarantee Workers Free Choice
At stake also are some of our basic freedoms. Mitt Romney believes in the right of workers to join a union or to not join a union. To exercise that right freely, workers must have access to all the relevant facts they need to make an informed decision. This means hearing from both the union about the potential
benefits and from management about potential costs. This also means being able to act on that decision in the privacy of the ballot booth. It is for these reasons that Romney opposes measures such as "Card Check" and "snap" elections, which deprive workers of the basic democratic institutions of decision and control such as the secret ballot. By guarding against coercion and intimidation in the workplace, we can secure the rights of employers and employees alike and protect our economy from harm.
To that end, as president, Romney will submit to Congress legislation, similar to the Secret Ballot Protection Act, that would require the use of the secret ballot in all union elections regardless of the preference of the union, employees, or employer. A Romney administration's NLRB appointees will repeal any rule implemented by the NLRB that distorted the law to accelerate the union election process. And a President Romney will support legislation mandating that all pre-election campaigns last at least one month. Finally, Romney believes that Right-to-Work legislation is the appropriate course for states, and he will use the bully
pulpit of the presidency to encourage more states to move in that direction.
Protect Free Speech
Another basic freedom implicated by labor policy is freedom of speech. As matters currently stand, unions can take money directly from the paychecks of American workers and spend it on politicking--each election cycle, unions spend hundreds of millions of dollars. In non-Right-to-Work states, employees have little
choice but to watch their money go toward such expenditures, even if they do not support the union and its political agenda. The result is the creation of an enormously powerful interest group whose influence is disproportionate to its actual support and whose priorities are fundamentally misaligned with those of
businesses and workers--and thus with the needs of the economy.
As president, Mitt Romney will send Congress a bill prohibiting the use of mandatory union dues for political purposes. The practice is fundamentally inconsistent with democratic principles; there is no legitimate reason for employees to face automatic paycheck deductions for political expenditures that they may
not support. The law should treat all potential collectors of political donations the same way: donations should always be freely and voluntarily given.
Respect the Rule of Law
In seeking to undo the damage wrought by the politically motivated decisions of the Obama administration, Mitt Romney will be keen not to mirror his predecessor's mistakes. His appointees to the NLRB will be chosen for their willingness to apply the law as it is actually written, not as they wish it to be. He will reverse the harmful executive orders issued by President Obama, such as the order strongly encouraging the use of union labor on government projects. But he will not seek to impose his own vision for the future of labor law via executive fiat and bureaucratic subterfuge. Down that road lies only more instability in the law
and uncertainty for businesses and workers. As president, Romney will take the conservative approach and work with Congress to amend the outdated portions of the existing statutory framework, setting it on a stronger footing appropriate to contemporary conditions.
Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney believes in protecting the rights and freedoms of American workers. The primary objective of his labor policy is to empower workers and businesses so that they can get the economy growing again and put America's millions of unemployed back to work.