GOP aspirants answer Labor question

The following are the responses of five of the leading Republican presidential candidates to eight questions posed by New Hampshire Business Review. All candidates were given a 150-word-per-answer limit. Responses were edited down to that length if they exceeded it. Three of the other leading candidates – former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- did not participate, despite repeated requests.

Q: What specific changes in federal policy– such as minimum wage or union recognition – would you favor or oppose?

TANCREDO: I don’t believe in the minimum wage and cannot unilaterally change it as president. The government does not have any right to determine what is appropriate for employers to pay their employees. Concerning unions, people should be free to choose whether or not they want to participate in a union.

PAUL: I oppose federal regulation of small businesses. I have always voted against raising the minimum wage, and I oppose union-boss power grabs such as the “card check” bill. As president, I would stop federal agencies like OSHA from imposing costly regulations on small businesses and trampling on the due process rights of business owners. I support repealing federal laws that force workers to join or pay dues to a union.

MCCAIN: Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has repeatedly made the point that the difference between the United States and other, less successful, nations is the flexibility of our economy. In many cases, unions are at odds with that needed flexibility.

Now, one might argue that they have virtues that balance the rigidity they impose on our businesses and industries. In practice, union leadership often forgets that their mission is to improve the lives of the rank and file. Instead, such union leadership is transformed into another special interest sinecure.

My home state is a right-to-work state, and it has proven beneficial for Arizona. I have fought for years for the protection of the fundamental right to work and of common-sense labor standards, by seeking a national right to work policy, opposing closed-shop mandatory union hiring, and fighting laws that require employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

HUNTER: Labor unions have made significant contributions in the areas of worker and consumer safety as well as fair compensation for American workers. Their contributions should not be overlooked. However, with the exception of public safety employees, who by the nature of their job cannot strike, I do not believe that membership in a union should be compulsory.

While unions still have a role in today’s workplace, underhanded tactics that take away a person’s right of free association cannot be tolerated. Entering a union should be a choice, not a mandate. Further, dues paid by a union member should not be used in political contributions without the knowledge and permission of that specific union member. Mandated dues should focus on providing core union services, not on political campaigns that are often divisive.

ROMNEY: I believe that hard-working Americans have the right to choose whether to join a union and should not be required to pay union dues if they do not join. No American should feel compelled or be required to join a union as a prerequisite of employment.

Furthermore, the resources of the federal government should not be used to solicit or collect dues for politicized organizations. Therefore, as president, I will work to overturn existing federal policy that permits automatic paycheck deduction for federal employees’ union dues. I also support protecting workers’ right to have the protection of a secret ballot when voting on the decision to unionize.


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