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Union Plans to Picket Romney in Florida Over Bain

MIAMI ( MainStreet) -- A leading airline labor union plans to picket Mitt Romney during his campaign in the Florida Republican primary because of his connection to Bain & Co., which is advising bankrupt AMR (AAMRQ.PK) and is expected to recommend job cuts.

Romney "made a fortune snatching up companies, closing factories and laying off workers," says James C. Little, president of the Transport Workers Union, in a statement blurring the line between the adviser and private equity firm Bain Capital. "Now Bain & Co. -- which still lines Mitt Romney's pockets with their profits -- has been hired to ax workers at AMR."
The Transport Workers Union says Bain wants to cut jobs at AMR, where it is an adviser, and Mitt Romney is a Bain alum considered an opponent of labor.

In Florida, the union represents several thousand airline workers at American Airlines, affiliate American Eagle and Southwest (LUV - Get Report) as well as bus drivers in Miami. Nationally, it represents about 24,000 fleet service, mechanics and related workers at American and American Eagle, as well as 15,000 flight attendants, fleet service workers and dispatchers at Southwest.

In opposing Romney, the union could be helping Newt Gingrich -- also considered an opponent of labor, a Republican target throughout this primary season.

"We don't want to help anybody but we do think that serious questions need to be raised about Bain," TWU spokesman Jamie Horwitz says. "Because Romney's candidacy has put Bain on the radar screen, we think its actions at AMR should be on the radar screen as well."

A spokesman for the Gingrich campaign declined to comment.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul viewed the TWU protest as an extension of Obama administration policy.

"The last thing the White House wants is Mitt Romney as an opponent -- which explains their 'all hands on deck' approach for their strategy to 'kill Romney,' the same way they engaged in a campaign of personal destruction against Hillary Clinton," Saul says.

"President Obama has presided over an unprecedented 35 straight months of 8% or higher unemployment, so it's no wonder his campaign is desperate to distract from his failed economic record," she says.

Horwitz says demonstrations will take place throughout Florida, starting on Wednesday at Romney's Miami campaign office. The Florida primary is scheduled for Jan. 31.

In a bankruptcy court filing last week, the union objected to AMR Eagle's plan to hire Bain & Co. as an adviser, saying its fees were excessive and were based on winning concessions from employees. Romney, a Bain partner, co-founded Bain Capital in 1984. While the union called it the consulting arm of Bain Capital, the consultant goes to pains to point out "the two companies are completely separate entities with no sharing of governance or ownership."

AMR Eagle said it would pay Bain $525,000 a month to "assist in labor-cost assessment and negotiation." Not only is the amount excessive, the union says, but Bain is "retained for the singular goal of extracting concessions from the debtors' rank-and-file employees, current and retired, who have dedicated their careers to the service of the debtor."

"The consulting firm was not hired to renegotiate aircraft leases, advise on financing or alter route structures," the union says. "Their sole function is eliminating employees. "

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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