Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been going after organized labor with particular vehemence on the campaign trail, telling members of the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors gathered Thursday for the group’s annual convention in Phoenix:
If I become president of the United States I will curb the practice we have in this country of giving union bosses an unfair advantage in contracting. One of the first things I will do – actually on Day One – is I will end the government's favoritism towards unions in contracting on federal projects and end project labor agreements.
But when it came time to organize Romney’s biggest undertaking of his career – the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City – he relied on unions to make sure the job was done right – the first time. He even singled out the IBEW out for public praise.
Just as the games were starting, in a speech before a crowd that included IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill, Romney said:
We thought it was going to take three weekends with 20 people. Instead it took 20 weekends with several hundred people. And the work was done by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. They worked up there, they put on the snow shoes, they treaded up there to help us.
He went on to thank Salt Lake City Locals 57 and 354 – and President Hill – for all their hard work. Nearly 30 members spent days and weekends to wire the 500-foot mega-wattage Olympic Rings displayed on a mountain overlooking the city.
Local 57, which represents workers at Utah Power, one of the game’s sponsors, also helped power up 14 venues during the games.
The IBEW was not the only union to help bring the 2002 games to life. More than six unions, working through a project labor agreement, helped reconstruct 17 miles of highway I-15 – a necessary first step before the Olympics could begin. The job was completed on time and under budget. The project was even declared the top civil engineering achievement of the year by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Said the ASCE:
The I-15 project contributed greatly to Salt Lake City’s ability to stage a successful 2002 Winter Olympic Games and will continue to serve the area for years to come.
Says International President Hill:
It is interesting that while 2012 Romney is out bashing labor every chance he gets, when 2002 Romney had a big project that absolutely had be done on time and under budget, he counted on a union work force to make it happen.