President Obama Voices Support for Collective Bargaining this Labor Day

This Labor Day, President Obama was in Detroit speaking with working families at an event sponsored by the Detroit Central Labor Council. President Obama was joined by the AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, and other top union leaders as they voiced their strong support for workers’ right to join a union and have a voice in the workplace.

“The economy is stronger when workers are getting paid good wages and good benefits. Having a voice on the job and a chance to get organized and a chance to negotiate for a fair day’s pay…is the right of every man and woman in America, not just the CEO in the corner office, but also the janitor that cleans that office.”

This is speech comes amid a push by Republican legislators to make Michigan a right to work state. State representative Mike Shirkey said that right-to-work legislation is the last piece of the puzzle for an economic rebound in Michigan. Unionization is presented by right-to-work supporters as an obstacle for attracting businesses to Michigan when the state is being compared to other labor free states. Indeed, within the past year labor has faced major setbacks in Wisconsin and Ohio. President Obama characterized this push for right-to-work as politically rather than economically motivated since the right-to-work is “the right to work for less and less and less.”

For the most part, President Obama’s speech appeared to be a precursor to his major jobs address before a joint session of Congress this coming Thursday. He called for both parties to work together to resolve the nation’s economic problems and to start by extending a payroll tax cut that is set to expire before the end of the year. His speech was met with much support from the union members and the millions of men and women who are currently without work.

Richard Trumka urged the crowd to pledge to “do everything we can to insist that our elected leaders and our companies create good jobs…and put America back to work.” This statement came a week after Trumka unveiled a six-point America Wants to Work Action Plan which has the AFL-CIO calling on Congress to put America back to work, retain good jobs, and rebuild the U.S. economy.

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