September 2, 2014

Democratic, GOP platforms compared

In comparing the platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties, Steven Greenhouse of The New York Times says the GOP platform “calls for numerous steps that could significantly weaken America’s labor unions — public-sector and private-sector ones — and help speed organized labor’s overall decline.”

Rather than take his word, here are comparisons of the Democratic and Republican platforms on issues of concern to labor-union members and working families:

ORGANIZING & COLLECTIVE BARGAINING:

Democratic Party platform statement: “Democrats believe that the right to organize and collectively bargain is a fundamental American value; every American should have a voice on the job and a chance to negotiate for a fair day’s pay after a hard day’s work. We will continue to fight for the right of all workers to organize and join a union. [W]e oppose the attacks on collective bargaining that Republican governors and state legislatures are mounting in states around the country.”

Republican Party platform statement: “We support the right of states to enact right-to-work laws and encourage them to do so to promote greater economic liberty. Ultimately, we support the enactment of a national right-to-work law to promote worker freedom and to promote greater economic liberty. We salute the Republican governors and state legislators who have saved their states from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions. We urge elected officials across the country to follow their lead . . .”

Additionally, the Republican platform supports a law ending the use of ‘card check’ as a means for workers to gain union representation. Card check allows employers to grant union recognition once a majority of workers sign authorization cards saying they wish to join a labor union. President Obama and Democrats in Congress were blocked by a House Republican majority from enacting legislation giving labor unions the right to demand card check in organizing campaigns.

 

MEDICARE:

Democratic Party platform statement: “Democrats adamantly oppose any efforts to privatize or voucherize Medicare; unlike our opponents we will not ask seniors to pay thousands of dollars more every year while they watch the value of their Medicare benefits evaporate. Democrats believe that Medicare is a sacred compact with our seniors.”

Republican Party platform statement: “[S]ave Medicare by modernizing it [moving Medicare] away from their current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model … we call for a transition to a premium-support model for Medicare, with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice.”

 

SOCIAL SECURITY & RAILROAD RETIREMENT:

Democratic Party Platform statement: “Find a solution to protect Social Security for future generations [and] block Republican efforts to subject Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market through privatization.”

Republican Party platform statement: “[Create] personal investment accounts as supplements to the system.”

 

AMTRAK:

Democratic Party platform statement: “We support long-term investments in our infrastructure [including] rail and public transit systems … all critical to economic growth, as they enable businesses to grow.”

Former CBS newsman Wes Vernon wrote in 2009: “For nearly 40 years, every president has viewed passenger rail with everything from benign neglect to outright contempt – until [Barack Obama].” In his 2011 State of the Union message, President Obama advocated a nationwide 17,000-mile network of high-speed and higher-speed trains that could provide 80 percent of the American population access to train travel by 2036.

Republican Party platform statement: “It is long past time for the federal government to get out of way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service to the Northeast Corridor. The same holds true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country.”

Critics warn there is little private sector interest in operating passenger trains elsewhere than the Northeast Corridor, and the wholesale curtailment of nationwide Amtrak service would put most of Amtrak’s 20,000 workers out of a job. When they cease paying into Railroad Retirement, the system would be financially crippled and likely force Railroad Retirement to be eliminated and folded into Social Security — significantly reducing pension benefits to railroad retirees.