The Presidential Candidates on Labor

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Okay, so this isn’t about metals in particular but it is about getting the positions of the presidential candidates on various business issues out to a wider audience. We’ll start with labor, a very sore subject amongst huge voting blocks within each of the two parties.

On skilled labor shortages: According to this IndustryWeek round-up of the candidates positions on the issues, here is where the candidates stand:

McCain: He will expand the number of H-1B visas to both bring in and keep existing talent. McCain believes that the Dept of Labor should be allowed to set visa levels in accordance with market conditions, particularly in areas where there are labor shortages. McCain also sites the number of new American jobs created when a foreign worker is hired (it’s 5-10 additional jobs).

Obama: Seeks to look domestically for talent and innovation to “make sure those jobs are not exported” [editor’s note: pandering] Obama supports investment in programs that “provide incentives for businesses to grow their information technology workforce in inner cities and rural communities.”

My commentary: Who isn’t for trying to educate and develop inner cities and rural communities? But let’s call a spade a spade shall we? This is economic development in blighted communities, a worthy policy initiative to be sure but that does not address the “skilled labor shortage in the US.” Though given the where unemployment numbers are headed, this might not really be an issue anymore.

Labor organizing: The Employee Free Choice Act was passed, but vetoed by President Bush (one of his few good moves) to amend the Labor Relations Act to eliminate the secret ballot. What does this mean? Today, when workers wish to organize themselves into a union, they have to get a majority of their colleagues to sign an authorization form to ask to receive union representation. A secret ballot vote is then held to finalize it. In reality, workers may feel pressured to sign up for a union so they say one thing to the union organizer but know that they can vote differently in private. This piece of legislation would remove the secret ballot, allowing for easier union organizing – even when workers don’t really want to join a union!

McCain: Voted against it.

Obama: Voted for it.

And for all of you sourcing folks who look to save money on labor to remain competitive, you can be sure if Obama wins, your costs will increase. But hey, who am I? It seems that is the price 53% of you don’t mind paying!

–Lisa Reisman

Comment (1)

  1. Historically, labor unions provided a check against corporate abuse toward the worker (that’s how they developed in the first place). Over the last several decades labor unions have been in decline for various reasons. Changes that help them strengthen a little bit may not be a bad thing. I’m not sure of the specific voting issue that is described above but it seems that the candidates voted along party lines. Thanks for the bringing the issue to light

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