AFL-CIO Responds to Romney Call

Mike Elk

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, has issued the following response to our report that Mitt Romney urged small business owners to influence their employees’ votes:

Though we did not need another example of how Mitt Romney isn’t on the side of working people, we got it. In These Times reported recently that Mitt Romney asked the members of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to make it very clear to [their] employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections.” This amounts to calling for employers to bully working people in their workplace.

Apparently, Mitt Romney doesn’t believe in workplace democracy. And as more and more reports of employer coercion of workers’ political rights emerge, it is clear that Romney’s disdain for workplace rights is not unique. In fact, the employer communications to workers that we are seeing include both direct and implicit threats and scare tactics to make employees fear for their jobs if President Obama wins. These are the same tactics that employers use against workers trying to organize a union. The Supreme Court has long recognized that even what appears on its face to be mere persuasion becomes inherently coercive when it’s an employer urging its employees to take particular actions.

Unions represent a necessary bulwark against bullying by employers, whether about the workplace or politics. That is why unions are critical to democracy, and why the right to organize is an internationally recognized human right. The recent outbreak of stories of employers bullying their workers into supporting their candidate underscores the crucial role of unions in our fragile democracy.

Listen to the Romney call:

Mike Elk wrote for In These Times and its labor blog, Working In These Times, from 2010 to 2014. He is currently a labor reporter at Politico.
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