Todd Farally is a 3rd generation Union Sheet Metal Worker, Blogger, Activist, and WCH Contributor, who has dedicated his life to the positive promotion of Labor Unions and Working Class Family Values.
As we move ever closer to the 2012 General Election, I really want to convey something to you, my union brothers and sisters who feel Mitt Romney and the Republican Party as a whole have their best interests in mind and plan on voting for GOP candidates and incumbents this fall. Because if they win, you will regret it. I’m a Sheet Metal Worker by trade and one thing we don’t do is dance around the issue. We tell it like it is and don’t apologize for doing so. So believe me when I say that this Presidential Candidate and newly minted Party platform is the most anti-union in probably the last one hundred years.
First let’s focus on Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney has gone out of his way to prove how anti-union he is. I’ll put it to you this way - George W. Bush looks like a friend to Labor Unions next to Romney. On numerous occasions Mitt has reiterated how he will take on the unions, how he will fervently support Right-to-Work (for less) laws and push to get a national version of those terrible laws on his desk to sign. And sign he will. Recently, the anti-union lobbying group Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) endorsed Mitt Romney for President. But Mr. Romney didn’t just receive this endorsement; he actively sought it out. When Romney spoke in front of the ABC several months ago he exclaimed: “One of the first things that I will do – actually on Day One – is I will end the government’s favoritism towards unions in contracting on Federal projects.” He goes on to say he will fight to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act and end Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Does any of that sound like a good idea to you? It sure doesn’t to me.
Now this isn’t just one candidate anymore – in fact at the Republican National Convention, delegates approved a new platform with some of the most anti-union language anyone has seen from either of the major political parties in generations. Like Romney, the platform encourages right-to-work (for less) laws on both State and National levels.
While Right-to-Work laws vary from state to state, they can adversely affect those of us in the construction trades as well as our brothers and sisters in the manufacturing sector. Do we deserve these rotten laws? No! But don’t worry, there’s more just for those of us in the construction trades. This newly minted GOP platform is also putting construction unions in its crosshairs. The platform calls for an end to PLAs and the repeal of Davis-Bacon. So how bad could it be? Well, if you live in a large metropolitan area like I do, it will certainly make things worse. But the ones that are really going to feel the most pain from this would be our brothers and sisters in rural areas. A large portion of the work in rural areas are government or Institutional jobs and without Davis-Bacon to protect wage standards, these jobs would most likely go to non-union construction companies that pay their workers a substandard wage and probably provide no benefits.
Still not convinced? OK, let’s talk about what Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney is trying to base his campaign on: his business experience. Romney is rich, very rich, as in worth $250 million dollars rich and that’s fine, good for him. But how did he acquire that wealth? Mitt made his money the old fashioned way; he outsourced good paying American – many union – jobs to countries like China. By now you probably know that Romney ran Bain Capital. However several documented cases show that Bain would buy not just viable, but profitable companies, and then purposely run them into the ground to claim bankruptcy. What came next was the worst part. Bain would lay off the employees, in some cases steal their pensions, shutter the business, strip out all the assets and sell it all off, piece by piece. This businessman who wants to be our President is running on his experience and his business experience entails selling out the American worker. Are you sure you want to vote for someone that built their fortune this way? Would you trust him to look out for working people?
We in the building trades have really hit a rough patch. I was laid off for twenty four months straight from late 2009 to late 2011, was lucky enough to work for seven and a half months and am currently laid off again. I know what it’s like to wake up feeling that all you want to do is go to work, to feel like you have a purpose, and the fear of uncertainty. But things can get much worse if we either don’t vote at all or vote for people that will work against our economic interests. And saying you’ve always voted Republican is not an excuse because you simply don’t want to face the fact that your party has turned on you. I can understand that - change is hard, but betrayal is even worse, and you have to ask yourself: What has this party said or done to deserve my vote? Speaking as a union member, I can say that the Republicans seem to say and do more and more against us and our families. As my Dad used to say, “Always vote your job, because the other guy sure as hell is.”