The GOP Presidential candidates are hard at work on the campaign trail attempting to out-anti-worker each other. Mitt Romney has asked voters repeatedly not to vilify him for taking extreme advantage of capitalism (i.e. placing profit over people) while Rick Santorum continues to drivel and backstep about a National Right-to-Work law:
Of course, nobody in labor takes any of this seriously — especially Mitt Romney calling Rick Santorum “labor’s favorite Senator” — as both men represent a reprehensible disrespect for, disinterest in, and distance from real worker issues.
But in this weekend’s Boston Globe, a story of Romney shacking up with a Boston police union surfaced. Naturally, the aim of revealing such an instance is to paint Romney as a back-stabbing flip-flopper:
Even as he pushed to slash aid to cities and towns and programs for the blind and raised college tuition, he fully funded a $45 million program that awarded salary bonuses to officers who earned advanced degrees.
The program, known as the Quinn bill, was under attack at the time by many taxpayer groups after a 2001 Board of Higher Education study called it an ineffective “cash cow’’ for police.
But when Romney was running for governor in 2002, he was steadfast in his support of the program. As a candidate, he showed up to the office of the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and asked for the union’s endorsement, said Thomas Nolan, a retired lieutenant who was then vice president of the federation. “There was a firm understanding that the quid pro quo would be his agreeing to allow our Quinn bill benefits to remain intact,’’ he said. “We felt assured that once he was elected, our benefits would be intact for four years and guess what? We got what we wanted.’’
Good on the union for fighting for their workers’ livelihoods and being open to legislative asks on both sides of the aisle. And good on Romney for praising workers at the time (“I believe we get our money’s worth and that we need law enforcement officers with higher education and training’’) despite other less worker-friendly actions (“he tried to exempt small public construction projects from the state’s prevailing wage law.”) It should be interesting to see if Rick “Big Labor” Santorum will wield this story of (gasp!) Mitt Romney cutting police officers a break against him.