The Obama campaign is out with a new two-minute ad focusing on a steel company that Bain Capital took over in 1993. In 2001, the company — then called GS Technologies — declared bankruptcy. (Romney, it’s worth noting, had left Bain a couple years prior to handle the Winter Olympics.) Seven hundred and fifty workers lost their jobs; they also lost health-care benefits and some of their pensions. The ad features former steel workers lamenting what happened to their company. Sample lines: “We view Romney as a job destroyer,” and “those guys were all rich. They all had more money than they’ll ever spend, yet they didn’t have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them.”
A January Reuters report on the company noted that one of the company’s problems may have been that it was unionized:
Charles Bradford, an analyst at Bradford Research, blames the union, in part, for the failure of GS Industries to survive in the new global marketplace.
“If you look at the steel companies that went under at the time, all of them were unionized,” he said. “I’m not saying this was the only factor — these firms faced other headwinds such as cheap labor and a strong dollar … but the unions held them back.”
And Bain Capital’s statement to Reuters pointed out that 44 U.S. steel companies had become bankrupt during the same era.
This isn’t the first time Romney has had to deal with political attacks over Bain. Back in the 1994 Senate race, Ted Kennedy ran ads that talked about workers at a company called Ampad that had lost their jobs after Bain had taken control.
Watch the ad, which will air in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Virginia:
UPDATE: A reader who used to work at GST e-mails some context about the union situation there:
I nearly choked on my Cheerios when I read that GST employees were blaming Bain for their downfall. I worked at GST Steel in Kansas City for four months in 1997 immediately after leaving the Navy.
Why only four months? Quickly after I started, I surprised to learn that several of my fellow USW Local 13-represented employees, mostly millwrights and electricians, we’re making between $100-130k. This was mainly due union-mandated overtime which, at least on a few occasions, consisted of the employees bringing in sleeping bags and pillows and sleeping in the shop. It would be hard for any company to stay competitive while paying double-time union wages to get their beauty sleep, but that’s not the half of it. The union employees obviously didn’t think they had it easy enough, so they went on strike in March of ‘97. The plant shut down for a couple of weeks until it re-started under the operation of management and non-union workers. The strike lasted a couple more months. I had a family to support, so I couldn’t afford to wait. I took another (non-union) job with another company. They shuttered the plant for good a few years later.
That’s Bain’s fault? Just classic.
UPDATE II: Below the jump, video of former Obama economic adviser Steve Rattner criticizing the ad this morning, noting that capitalism inevitably leads to some job losses.