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Although Mitt Romney continues to try and distance himself from his record of offshoring U.S. jobs overseas during his tenure at Bain Capital, a newreport by the Financial Times’ Robin Harding shows there were even more anti-worker tactics occurring under Romney’s watch at the company. Now we might understand more about why he boasted earlier this year that he’s “taken on union bosses before.”
Key Airlines, an early investment for the private equity firm founded by a young Mitt Romney and two associates, broke the law by attempting to coerce and then dismiss two pilots who tried to organize a union. Two months after a union vote failed, Bain agreed to sell Key Airlines at a large profit in 1986.
Those two Key Airlines pilots later brought the union suppression case to court. In 1992, Roger Foley, federal judge for the District of Nevada, wrote:
The anti-union activities in this case are not merely unfair labor practices as Key argues, but blatant, grievous, willful, deliberate and repeated violations of the Railway Labor Act.
According to the Financial Times:
Key Airlines was a small charter carrier with a military contract to ferry personnel to bases in the Nevada desert. The union effort was suppressed under Bain's ownership in 1985 and 1986, although a court judgment against the company and its management—including Bain Capital founding partner T. Coleman Andrews III—did not come until 1992. The judgment was later qualified by a subsequent court ruling in 1994, together with an agreement to settle an appeal.
Citing safety concerns in 1985, Key Airlines pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers planned to organize a union.
Financial Times reports management began to coerce the pilots after they heard a union was forming:
According to the court ruling, Key held coercive meetings with pilots; said management would leave and the company lose contracts; and told pilots that salaries, bonuses and benefits could be frozen. Federal labor law forbids an airline "to interfere in any way with the organization of its employees."