Obama vs. Romney 101: 5 ways they differ on jobs

Whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama occupies the White House in January, one of them will have to deal with more than 12 million jobless Americans, or a little over 8 percent of the total workforce. Where do the candidates stand on issues relating to jobs?

3. Labor unions

Larry Downing/Reuters/File
President Obama stands behind AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka before he speaks at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting at the Washington Convention Center in Washington on Aug. 4, 2010.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, organized labor manned phone banks, went door to door, and gave significant sums of money to help elect Obama. 

During the past four years, union officials say, Obama has repaid their hard work: He has gotten tougher on trade infractions by China, he has stocked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with officials whom union leaders call “fair,” and he supported the auto industry – and auto workers' jobs – during its darkest hour after the US went into a deep recession.

“Absolutely, unequivocally, he has been friendly to labor,” says Gary Hubbard, public affairs director at the United Steelworkers in Washington. 

Still, the unions are not totally happy with Obama. For example, the Democrats are holding their convention in Charlotte, N.C., a right-to-work state that many union members feel is hostile to them. As a result, union leaders say they won’t be big spenders at the convention.

"We won't be buying skyboxes, hosting events other than the labor delegates' meeting, or bringing a big staff contingent to the convention," said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest trade-union federation, in a letter to members in July.

But the unions expect to be out this fall working for Obama. “We'll have over 400,000 activists trying to get votes, knocking on doors...." he said in August at a Monitor-hosted breakfast with reporters.

To Romney, unions are part of the problem in providing jobs, not the solution. After recognizing the important contributions that unions made in the past, his “Believe in America” document says, “Too often, unions drive up costs and introduce rigidities that harm competitiveness and frustrate innovation.”

Romney says he would try to fire Obama’s choices for the NRLB and would guarantee workers the right to choose to join a union or not. To that end, Romney says he would submit to Congress legislation to require use of secret ballots in all union elections.

In addition, he would push Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the use of mandatory union dues for political purposes. And he says he would use the “bully pulpit” to support "right to work" legislation, which prohibits an agreement between unions and employers for payment of union dues as a condition of employment.

3 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.