Though he didn’t have much good to say about teachers unions, Mitt Romney told an education forum Tuesday that teachers do have the right to walk off the job.
Speaking at an education summit sponsored by NBC News, Romney said that he wouldn’t stand in the way of teachers engaging in an organized work stoppage, as they recently did in Chicago.
“I don’t know that I would prevent teachers from being able to strike,” Romney said. “Allowing them to strike on matters such as compensation is a right that exists in this country,” he said in response to a question from host Brian Williams.
Though he stood by the tactics, Romney condemned the negotiations in Chicago, saying they were indicative of a larger problem in which Democratic politicians become beholden to their financial backers in the teachers unions.
“I don’t mean to be terribly partisan, but I kind of am,” Romney joked. “In case of the Democratic Party, the largest contributors to the Democratic Party are the teachers’ unions. And so if they can elect someone, then that person is supposed to be representing the public vis-a-vis the teachers’ union, but actually most of the money came from the teachers’ union. It’s an extraordinary conflict of interest.”
Romney has accused Democrats — and President Obama — of “crony capitalism” for, he says, favoring big donors with government support. Romney, breaking with recent precedent, has refused to release the names of his biggest donors, which campaign finance watchdogs say would make it impossible to judge his on behavior in office.