Now, labor unions play an important role in our society. There’s some like the carpenters union that compete on a fair basis and train their members to have greater skills, and so they’re an important part of America’s economy.The part attacking President Obama and "union bosses" and wildly mischaracterizing the NLRB's complaint (now dropped) against Boeing and what "right to work" laws do is more of the same from Romney.
But this president doesn’t just look at the workers in the union, he’s saluting to the union bosses, and the union bosses too often demand things that are not right for America. This president has stacked the National Labor Relations Board with his labor friends to make sure that their decisions tilt the playing field toward union bosses. So they said to Boeing, you can’t build a factory in South Carolina because it’s a right to work state. My view is, every person in America ought to have the right to choose whether to join a union or not, and so I’m in favor of right to work legislation.
But his initial statement that "labor unions play an important role in our society" is a shift. He said something similar in July, using carefully measured praise for unions having some role to play before attacking them in more specific terms. However, this is different, because he singles out the carpenters union (formally, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters) for praise.
It's actually not crazy to ask if Romney is thinking that an endorsement from the carpenters is a possibility, at least in the primary, or that he might be able to get them to stay neutral in the general election. The carpenters endorsed John Edwards in the Democratic primary in 2008, before backing Barack Obama in the general, but in 2004 they did not endorse anyone for president, and had a relatively close relationship with George W. Bush. So Romney singling them out for praise is significant—and it's a trend, as the Huffington Post reports he also did so several days ago at a Michigan roundtable.