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Democrats, organized labor say Daines doesn't vote for U.S. workers

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Senate Montana

U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, left, listens as Ash Grove cement plant manager Dick Johnson gives him a tour in Montana City, on Aug. 19, 2014. Daines, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, says new Democratic Amanda Curtis' entry in the race won't change how he campaigns.

HELENA – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Daines and organized labor don’t agree on much – including whether his voting record is favorable to U.S. workers.

Labor officials and his Democratic opponent, state Rep. Amanda Curtis, point to several votes and positions during Daines’ tenure in the U.S. House they say show he’s no friend of the working man or woman.

Daines has voted for a bill that would allow companies to substitute comp time for overtime pay and opposed an amendment to block federal contracts for companies that move operations to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, they note.

Democrats also point to a procedural vote in March 2013 where Daines opposed an amendment to increase the minimum wage.

But Daines says their interpretation of his voting record doesn’t tell the whole story.

Daines’ office said he believes states, rather than Congress, should set minimum wage levels. He also “strongly opposes” giving federal contracts to companies establishing tax havens overseas, his office said.

In July, he voted against the Bermuda-Cayman Islands amendment because it focuses on the problem in only two countries and would make it harder to go after companies using tax havens in other countries, his office said.

The amendment passed on a 221-200 vote, but the overall bill later stalled in the Senate.

Democrats also ding Daines for supporting the 2014 House Republican budget plan, which proposes a “territorial” tax system that exempts overseas profits from U.S. taxation. They say this system would encourage American companies to shift jobs and operations overseas.

Daines’ office says the budget plan doesn’t have specific tax changes, and that Daines supports overall tax reform that would encourage U.S. companies to invest money and create jobs at home.

His office also said the overtime pay bill merely would have allowed private-sector workers to voluntarily choose comp time instead of cash for overtime work – a practice in effect for public-sector employees. It also protects workers from being forced into accepting comp time instead of pay, Daines said.

Organized labor strongly opposed the bill, saying it would lead to companies forcing employees to accept comp time for overtime work, and President Barack Obama threatened to veto it. It passed the House, but stalled in the Senate.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at mike.dennison@lee.net.

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