By Bertram de Souza (Contact)
Published January 8, 2012
A day after the Mahoning County Democratic Party Central Committee refused to endorse Prosecutor Paul Gains and Engineer Richard Marsico because they had given pay raises to their employees, Mitt Romney, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, berated public sector unions over their members’ wages.
Romney, who participated in a televised debate Sunday morning on NBC, was asked whether labor unions play a positive role in the country. In answering, the former governor of Massachusetts took a shot at the public unions, saying they have pushed compensation levels for their members beyond what private sector workers receive.
The GOP candidate said public employees’ salaries should not be higher than those in the private sector.
Such a position will resonate in the Mahoning Valley where workers in the private sector have had to accept wage freezes and benefit givebacks and have had their pensions frozen, while those in government have continued to do well despite the national economic recession.
A statewide poll during the highly contentious campaign by the unions and the Democratic Party to kill the Republican-passed collective bargaining reform law showed that Ohioans wanted public workers to pay a more toward their pensions and health care insurance.
Mahoning County Party insiders — members of the central committee — rejected Prosecutor Gains and Engineer Marsico because they showed such poor judgment in granting pay raises. Their actions also demonstrated just how out of touch some elected officials are with reality.
Romney has carved out a position regarding the public sector that will stand him in good stead in regions like the Valley where government seems out of control.