August 12, 2010
Click to watch video of President Obama’s speech.
Renews pledge to support EFCA, continue fighting for workers
President Obama addressed the leadership of the AFL-CIO at the recent Executive Council meeting in Washington, DC. Touting the major legislative accomplishments of his administration – health reform and Wall Street reform chief among them – the President reminded union leaders that under his administration, we now have an ally in the White House instead of an administration with “a profound animosity toward the notion of unions.”
Indeed, the first act of Congress the newly-sworn-in President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a workers’ rights law to ensure you have the right to protection under the 1964 Civil Rights Act each time you are the victim of pay discrimination by your employer.
Obama’s Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, herself the daughter of trade unionists, has restored the Department of Labor to its role as guardian of workers’ rights, protector of health and safety, and enforcer of wage and hour laws – much to the dismay of business and employer groups who had a willing pawn in Bush’s “Anti-Labor” Department chief, Elaine Chao.
Remembering who drove the car into the ditch
The President told union leaders it’s up to us to remind our members over the next three months that the upcoming election is a choice between going forward or going in reverse. The same people who are asking voters in November for the keys to the car are the ones who drove it into the ditch in the first place:
“You’ve got these folks 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 and we’ve been shoving that car out of the ditch inch by inch, and they’ve been standing on the side the whole time watching, telling us, no, you’re not pushing hard enough, you’re not doing it the right way — not lifting a finger to help. And now we’ve finally got that car up on the blacktop there, about to drive, and they say they want the keys back. (Laughter.) Well, you can’t have the keys, because you don’t know how to drive. (Laughter.) You don’t know how to drive. (Laughter.) You’re not going to get the keys back. (Applause.) You’re not going to get them back.
“Somebody pointed out to me that when you’re in a car and you want to go forward, you put it in “D.” (Laughter.) You want to go back in the ditch, you put it on “R.” (Laughter.) So I just want everybody to think about that. (Applause.)”
You can read the transcript of President Obama’s remarks to the AFL-CIO Executive Council by clicking here.