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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Debate Questions for Mitt Romney on Employment Issues

This will continue the series a group of management-side and employee-side employment attorneys are doing on what questions we would ask the candidates in the debates. Since I handle employee-side issues, I bet you can predict some of what I would ask Mitt Romney, but here goes.

I'd start with this one.

Four years ago, you advocated letting Detroit go bankrupt rather than bailing out our auto industry during the depths of the recession. You addressed some specific solutions, including dumping existing management, saying, "The new management must work with labor leaders to see that the enmity between labor and management comes to an end. . . . Companies in the 21st century cannot perpetuate the destructive labor relations of the 20th. This will mean a new direction for the U.A.W., profit sharing or stock grants to all employees and a change in Big Three management culture. The need for collaboration will mean accepting sanity in salaries and perks. At American Motors, my dad cut his pay and that of his executive team, he bought stock in the company, and he went out to factories to talk to workers directly. Get rid of the planes, the executive dining rooms — all the symbols that breed resentment among the hundreds of thousands who will also be sacrificing to keep the companies afloat" Do you still believe that management needs to get rid of perks and be more reasonable and fair with labor?
 I'm pretty sure I know the answer, but I'd like to hear him backpedal. I might follow up with this one:

As Massachusetts governor, you worked with Senator Ted Kennedy to develop health care coverage for all employees. Yet you've opposed the strikingly similar provisions of Obamacare. How would you assure that all employees and their dependents get health care coverage?
 That should be fun. Then I'd ask:

During the primary campaign in New Hampshire, you said, “My view has been to allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time.” Now you seem to have changed your mind, and say there's no need to raise minimum wage. Which is it? What would you do to bring minimum wage workers over the poverty level, which they are currently about $7000/year under?

I'd probably end with this one:

In 1994, you wrote a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans where you said, "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent. . . . If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will." In 2011, you were asked: "How do you feel about gays serving openly in the military?" and you answered, "That’s already occurred and I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage." As President, are you going to reverse gay rights in the military? Would you support adding sexual orientation to the protected categories in Title VII?

There are lots of other questions I could ask, but I know the answers. The fact is, this election is of huge importance to employees. You can either vote against your own economic interests and can buy into what Fox is telling you, or you can vote with your wallet. For anyone making under a million a year, the choice is pretty clear. I hope the middle class will see it that way.



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