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BRIDGE BRIEFING: Romney And Labor

Romney Vetoed Bill To Increase The Minimum Wage

2006: Romney Vetoed A Minimum Wage Bill Despite Campaign Pledge To Increase Pay For Low-Wage Workers. According to the Boston Globe, “Romney rejected the Legislature’s plan to raise the state minimum wage to $8 an hour over two years, angering Democratic lawmakers and advocates who accused him of abandoning a 2002 campaign pledge to significantly boost the pay of low-wage workers. Romney, expressing concern that such a large increase would imperil the state’s economy, sent the bill back to lawmakers with his own plan: Raise the minimum wage from $6.75 to $7 an hour on Jan. 1 and have the executive branch study and possibly recommend further increases every two years.” [Boston Globe, 7/22/06]

  • Romney’s Minimum Wage Veto Was Unanimously Overridden By The Legislature. According to the Boston Globe, “The Legislature unanimously overrode Governor Mitt Romney’s veto of a minimum wage increase last night, rejecting the governor’s view that the boost would hurt businesses and the poor. The override means that the state’s minimum wage will probably be among the highest in the country within two years. The legislation increases the $6.75-an-hour rate to $7.50 an hour on Jan. 1 and to $8 in 2008. The vote, at shortly before 8 p.m., followed very little debate, and though it appeared all Republican members of both chambers abandoned the governor, an official roll call was not immediately available last night. The House voted 152 to 0 to override Romney, and minutes later the Senate voted 38 to 0.” [Boston Globe, 8/1/06]
  • Romney “Faced Pressure” On Minimum Wage Bill. According to the Boston Globe, “Now weighing a run for president, Romney may face pressure to veto the wage increase to play to pro-business Republicans.” [Boston Globe, 7/9/06] 

As Governor, Romney Proposed Reducing Unemployment Benefits

2005: Romney Renewed Push To Reduce Unemployment Benefits. According to the Boston Herald, “Gov. Mitt Romney has renewed his offensive to reform the state’s unemployment insurance system. Romney hosted a roundtable yesterday with business leaders who bemoaned the high cost of unemployment insurance in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Jane C. Edmonds, Romney’s director of the Department of Workforce Development, urged lawmakers at a Beacon Hill hearing to reduce the number of weeks unemployed workers can collect jobless benefits – to 26 weeks from the current 30 – bringing Massachusetts in line with other states.” [Boston Herald, 6/23/05]

Romney Urged Lawmakers To Cut The Number Of Weeks Workers Would Be Eligible For Unemployment Benefits And Lengthen The Amount Of Time They Have To Work To Be Eligible. According to the Boston Globe, “Romney urged lawmakers to lower employers’ payments to the unemployment insurance fund by approving his plan to cut the number of weeks that workers would be eligible for benefits to 26 weeks and by extending to 20 weeks the period that employees must work to qualify for unemployment checks.” [Boston Globe, 3/3/04]

2003: Romney Proposed Reducing Unemployment Benefits To 26 Weeks And Restricting The Pool Applicants. According to the Boston Globe, “States typically offer a maximum of 26 weeks’ worth of unemployment benefits. Massachusetts offers 30 weeks, though Governor Mitt Romney has proposed reducing the benefits to 26 weeks and restricting the pool of applicants by requiring that they work 20 weeks, instead of the current 15-week minimum, before they are eligible 

Public Employees

Romney Tried To Remove Collective Bargaining Rights For Public Workers
As Governor, Romney Proposed Stripping Collective Bargaining Rights From Firefighters And Police. According to Salon, “Mitt Romney came under fire this weekend from Democrats after he suggested that we shouldn’t hire more firefighters. Then top Romney surrogate John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, doubled down on Romney’s firefighter comments today, telling MSNBC they were not a ‘gaffe.’ This is hardly the first time the presumed GOP nominee has tangled with firefighters. In fact, he has a long, bitter history with them. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney often ended up sparring with firefighters and their unions. He proposed stripping collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in a city that needed a state bailout, and cut funding to a fire station to be built on the site where six firemen died. He also proposed tripling the state police’ budget to deal with homeland security concerns in the years after 9/11, but didn’t offer a dime for firefighters, angering many at the time.” [Salon, 6/11/12]

Romney Tried To Strip Union Membership From Thousands Of Government Employees As Governor. According to the Associated Press, “Union leaders are criticizing a move by Gov. Mitt Romney to strip union membership from thousands of government employees, saying it would deny those workers protections from salary cuts and layoffs. The plans, included as riders to Romney’s budget proposal for next fiscal year, would essentially expand the state’s legal definition of a manager. Workers would be defined as management – and ineligible for union membership – even if they lack hiring and firing powers and oversee as few as one other worker.” [Associated Press, 3/30/03]
Romney Supported Wisconsin Governor’s Efforts To Strip Collective Bargaining From Public Workers
Romney Gave $5,000 To The Republican Party Of Wisconsin To Support Governor Walker’s Move To Strip Public Employees Of Collective Bargaining Rights. According to the Washington Post, “Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC has cut a $5,000 contribution check, the maximum allowable, to the Republican Party of Wisconsin. ‘Liberal big government interests are fighting efforts to rein in out-of-control public employee pay and benefits in Wisconsin. It is critical that we stand with the Wisconsin GOP as it stands up for the rights of the taxpayer.’” [Washington Post, 2/25/11]

Romney Supported Wisconsin Governor Scott Walkers Measure To End Collective Bargaining For Public Employees. According to Romney’s Twitter page, Romney tweeted, “Support @GovWalker for doing what’s necessary to rein in out-of-control public sector pay and benefits #tcot” [Twitter, 2/18/11]

  • Wisconsin Governor Walker’s Measure “Would End Collective Bargaining [For Public Employee Unions] On Such Things As Health Care Costs, Pensions And Working Conditions” As Well As Limit Wage Increases. According to Politifact, “For public employee unions except those covering public safety workers, the measure would narrow collective bargaining to wage issues, and only then within specific limits. It would end bargaining on such things as health care costs, pensions and working conditions — rights granted to the public unions more than 50 years ago. Additionally: Wage increases would be limited to inflation or less. Employees would be able to opt out of paying union dues. An annual certification vote on the existence of each union would be required. And public employers would be barred from withholding union dues from worker’s paychecks. Walker’s proposal also repeals all rights to collective bargaining for more than 30,000 University of Wisconsin employees, something granted in 2009.” [Politifact, 2/21/11]

Romney Supported Ohio’s Efforts To Strip Collective Bargaining From Public Workers
Romney: I Support Ohio Anti-Union Law “110 Percent.” According to The New York Times, “Mitt Romney’s critics are quick to accuse him of being a flip-flopper on important issues, part of an effort by Democrats and his Republican rivals to establish him as a politician without a core. Mr. Romney gave them new ammunition on Wednesday by appearing to waffle on whether he supports tough anti-union legislation in Ohio that is up for a vote on a referendum in that state. Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, had supported the union rules, imposed by the state’s Republican governor, John R. Kasich, several months ago. Then on Tuesday, in an appearance in the state, he suggested that he would remain neutral on the referendum. And on Wednesday he apologized for ‘confusion’ and said he supported Mr. Kasich and the rules ‘110 percent.’” [The New York Times, 10/26/11]

Romney Supported The Ohio GOP’s Efforts To Pass Issue 2, Restricting The Collective Bargaining Rights Of Public Employees. According to Cincinnati.com, “GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney is expected to show up at the Ohio Republican Party’s phone bank center on Wooster Pike in Terrace Park Tuesday morning to rally GOP volunteers for the final push to pass state issues 2 and 3. ‘We’re glad to have Gov. Romney’s help,’ Ohio Republican Party chairman Kevin DeWine told the Enquirer Sunday. ‘Our volunteers have been working very hard on these issues; and the governor is coming to thank them.’ By coming to the Ohio GOP call center, where volunteers have been making thousands of phone calls to voters in recent weeks, Romney is associating himself with Issue 2, an issue that, if the ‘yes’ vote prevails, would keep Senate Bill 5 – which restricts the collective bargaining rights of public employees.” [Cincinnati.com, 10/23/11]