Union says Romney did not seek women for top posts

WASHINGTON – Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was wrong when he said that, as Massachusetts governor, he sought information about qualified working women for his Cabinet, a leader of the nation’s top public workers union says.

In his second debate with incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama, on Oct. 16, Romney burnished his record on woman workers by, he said, demanding his staff present him with a binder of resumes of women qualified for top posts.

That’s not what happened, says Laura Reyes, AFSCME’s new Secretary-Treasurer, its top-ranking woman and – more to the point – speaker for the union that represents tens of thousands of Massachusetts local and state workers.

Romney told a debate questioner he made the demand after his staff gave him resumes only from men. After getting the “binder full of women,” the GOP’er added, he then hired so many women for top posts that Massachusetts was firstt in the nation in that area.

His debate story turned out to be false, Reyes said. “Romney never asked for the binders.” They were given to him by a non-partisan alliance of state women’s organizations. Romney is more concerned about American women getting dinner on the table than he is about them getting paid equal pay for equal work,” Reyes said.

Referring to another Romney accommodation – adjusting the schedule of his female chief of staff so she could tend to her two elementary-school-aged children-Reyes added: “Cook your own dinner, Gov. Romney.”

Both Romney and Obama are working hard to win female voters. Women are estimated to be at least 52 perecent of the electorate this year, and there has been a persistent pro-Democratic gender gap among woman voters for decades.

In the debate, Romney tried to appeal to woman voters by claiming the Great Recession hurt working women more than it hurt men – and thus they would benefit from his pro-entrepreneurial, pro-business policies.

Obama shot back that not only were Romney’s facts wrong – proportionally far more men lost their jobs, federal data show – but that GOP policies which Romney wants to restore caused the crash in the first place. He’s spent his time in the Oval Office trying to repair the wreckage, Obama said.

Obama added he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, restoring a female or minority worker’s right to sue an employer for pay discrimination. Romney ducked that.

Photo: Tony Pecinovsky/PW


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.