Romney wishes some feds weren’t unionized

Charles Dharapak/AP

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney intimated that he would make deeper changes to the government workforce if federal employees weren’t unionized, during secretly taped remarks at a recent private fundraiser in Florida.

Romney, in the now infamous speech obtained by Mother Jones magazine and posted on the publication’s website, was responding to a question that recommended cleaning house in Washington to reduce corruption and cronyism. Specifically, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are “disaster areas,” the person asking the question said.

“I wish they weren’t unionized, so we could go a lot deeper than you’re actually allowed to go,” Romney responded, before giving his broader view on voter perceptions of President Obama and his policies. It was unclear whether Romney was referring to all federal employees who belong to unions, or only the employees at the specific regulatory agencies mentioned.

The brief exchange is in keeping with the GOP nominee’s public proposals to reduce the federal workforce through attrition and to reorganize government with an eye toward improving efficiency. In a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles on Monday, Romney said reducing the federal workforce, bringing federal pay into line with private sector compensation, reorganizing government and improving its efficiency would result in savings of $500 billion a year within four years after he took office.

Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has called for extending the federal pay freeze, requiring government workers to pay more for retirement benefits and also shrinking the federal workforce through attrition.

“The bottom line is that Mitt Romney is going to come after the jobs of federal workers if elected,” said Carl Goldman, executive director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 26. “And while we have tools that we could and would use to fight back, the best thing we can do is to make sure that he doesn’t get elected in the first place.”

There are roughly 2.1 million federal workers, although that figure does not include the U.S. Postal Service or uniformed military personnel.

"I know that Gov. Romney is sorely mistaken if he believes that cleaning house at the SEC is in the best interest of our nation and our economic recovery," Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement. NTEU represents about 2,800 SEC employees.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.