Speech to AFL-CIO calls on workers to support Democrats this fall over the Republicans 'who drove America's economy into a ditch.'
Washington (5 Aug. 2010) - President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday to keep fighting for union-friendly legislation as he urged labor leaders to give strong support to Democrats during U.S. mid-term elections this November.
“You have to remind (voters) for the next three months this election's a choice,” Obama told AFL-CIO executives in Washington. “You've got these folks (Republicans) who drove America's economy into a ditch, and for the last 20 months, we put on our boots and we got into the mud.”
Obama said his administration has “consistently” carried out policies to strengthen workers’ salaries and benefits, passing the Fair Pay Act to end wage disparities between men and women doing the same jobs, extending unemployment benefits and reversing Bush-era executive orders designed to break up organized labor groups.
Obama also reaffimed his support for another piece of legislation that labor unions have long supported in the U.S.
“We are going to keep on fighting to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)” Obama said to a standing ovation. If passed, the legislation would enact a "card check" system that would make it easier to organize non-union workplaces.
Obama acknowledged that it will “continue to be tough” to get the EFCA through the U.S. Congress but he promised to "keep on pushing.”
Meanwhile, he also conceded that workers in many areas of the country are disappointed at the pace of change since he was sworn into office in January 2009.
Many states continue to grapple with double-digit unemployment, while crumbling rust-belt towns are waiting for his campaign vision of new jobs in old factories and of new green jobs to become a reality.
“They're frustrated,” he said. “They've got every right to be frustrated. And I am happy as president of the United States to take responsibility for making decisions now that are going to put us in a stronger position down the road. And they need to know that – that we're going to be working with you to make sure that we're putting ourselves in a position where folks are working and working for a good wage and good benefits.”
Obama also addressed the plight of middle-class workers in a bad economy, many of whom are struggling to make house payments or to save money for their children’s college education while worrying about keeping their jobs.
He thanked the AFL-CIO for its role in his first-term legislative victories — health care and Wall Street reform — as well as pressing for middle class tax cuts and reforms reigning in special interests.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE