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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Romney Attacks Obama's Pro-Union Stance With Video Ad Vilifying St. Louis' Local 42

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Yesterday, after presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney attacked President Barack Obama for his ties to teachers' unions, Daily RFT went a-digging for some background and found an interesting precursor:

Back in September, the Republican blasted Obama by training a spotlight on one of St. Louis' unions: 

If you don't have time to watch it, here's the run-down:

Paul Munsch of St. Louis Paving Co. says his company has "never been union and our employees have never expressed an interest in being union" because work rules would require him to deal with three unions on a job site, resulting in a "grating" inefficiency.

So what did the Laborers' Local 42 do change this? Munsch says:
A man came up to me and handed me a [union] business card..... and says, 'You've got until April 27 to talk to us about how we can improve your business.'
Munsch and his guys weren't interested. Then the deadline hit:
We're working at a shopping mall. All of a sudden, six guys jump out. They start videotaping our equipment, videotaping our men, videotaping their cars and their license plates.... They blew up a 25-foot inflatable rat, our name plastered on its chest, blood coming out of its mouth....
What else?
[They would] show up to our equipment yard, follow our trucks to the job. They'd put up pickets. They'd try to embarrass us in front of our customers. And the hope would be that our customers would stop using us and we'd be forced to sign an agreement with the union. Almost everything they do makes the skin crawl of anybody who hears this story. And yet everything they do is legal.  
click to enlarge Seen this billboard? The Romney campaign has!
  • Seen this billboard? The Romney campaign has!
This account isn't entirely accurate, says Brandon Flinn, business manager and secretary-treasurer of the Local 42. He tells Daily RFT that, first of all, if Munsch went union he'd only deal with only two of them, not three (the Teamsters would not be involved).

Secondly, Flinn says, "We don't teach our organizers to issue ultimatums. The relationship between union and contractor has to be a profitable one for all parties."

Thirdly, Flinn says that Munsch:
portrays us as bullies, yet the responsibility of a union is to protect the area standards which are set by signatory contractors. They provide wages, healthcare, training and pensions for the workers and/or members. When we have a contractor that does not provide that, it's our responsibility as a union to notify the public of that fact.
He concludes the same way Munsch did: "We're perfectly within our rights to do that." The big difference is: For the union, that's a point of pride. For Munsch, it's a shame. 

The connection to Obama in all of this is tenuous. The video doesn't describe his labor policies, though Munsch says that with this president, "it's been one union payoff after another."

Rather, the logic is crude: Unions are bad; Obama supports unions; therefore, Obama is bad. If the GOP pulls this back out later in the campaign, they may feel compelled to tighten it up.

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