GOP platform a nightmare for American workers

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So what is in the 2012 GOP platform?

•       For the first time, it calls for a national Right-to-Work Act. Indicating the extreme nature of this year’s platform, the party is gleefully kowtowing to militant anti-union groups such as the National Right to Work Committee. 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney has endorsed it, 2008 candidate for the GOP nomination Mitt Romney did not. Now the law of the land in 23 states, right-to-work does not create jobs, but does reduce wages for already struggling workers.

•       Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires the payment of prevailing wage on public works projects, and end Project Labor Agreements, a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement, both of which are essential to preserving basic labor standards in the building trades.

•       A vow to “restore the rule of law to labor law.” A good start would be tackling the epidemic of corporate lawlessness during union organizing
campaigns. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, pro-union workers were fired in over 25% of union organizing campaigns conducted between 2001-2007, the second highest rate of illegal terminations in the postwar period.

What the GOP means by restoring the rule of law, however, is something entirely different. It does not mean protecting workers against illegal actions, but encouraging more partisan attacks on the National Labor Relations Board, just like the ones we have witnessed from the GOP-controlled House over the past 18 months.

•       Pandering to the owners of tribal casinos -- now a $25 billion industry -- who give huge amounts of money to Republican causes, the platform calls
for the “withdrawal” of all federal and state regulations protecting hundreds of thousands of low paid and vulnerable employees in tribal workplaces.

•       Praise for anti-union Republican governors such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio, both of whom signed extreme laws
eliminating collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

•       States that the GOP will “bar mandatory dues for political purposes” and “aggressively enforce” a 2012 decision on political dues by the anti-union
Roberts Court (Knox vs. SEIU). In reality, state and federal “paycheck protection” measures, which limit the use of union dues money for core political activities, are simply power grabs, which have been rejected by voters in several states.

•       Perhaps most remarkably of all, the platform makes no mention whatsoever of workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively. For the GOP, labor
policy means weakening protections and lowering wages, not protecting workplace rights.

Over the past three decades, American employers have waged what Business Week called “one of the most successful anti-union wars ever,” with
spectacular results – private sector union density now stands at just 6.9% of the workforce, its lowest level for almost a century.  But American workers still want unions. In the most comprehensive study of workers’ views, Harvard economist Richard Freeman concludes: “Workers want unions more than ever before…. If workers were provided the union representation they desired in 2005, then the overall unionization rate would have been
about 58%.”

Instead of tackling corporate lawlessness and protecting worker choice, the GOP platform vows to crack down on alleged abuses by “union bosses” and the labor board, which are as real as the imaginary President Obama occupying Clint Eastwood’s empty chair.

As the 2012 “freedom in the workplace” GOP platform makes clear, a Romney administration would mean even greater misery for struggling American
workers.

And that is why they will reject him come November.

Logan is professor and director of labor studies at San Francisco State University. Between 2000-2008, he was an assistant and associate professor of management at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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