Politics

Obama Unveils Jobs Program on Labor Day

| by AFL-CIO

In a Labor Day address to more than 10,000 union members and their families in Milwaukee, President Obama announced a massive new job-creating road, rail, runway and air traffic control rebuilding project.

Speaking to the Milwaukee Area Labor Council’s annual LaborFest celebration, Obama said it was “the great American middle class that made our economy the envy of the world. It’s got to be that way again.”

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It was folks like you, after all, who forged that middle class. It was working men and women who made the twentieth century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today– the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans, those cornerstones of middle class security that all bear the union label.

Joining Obama at the lakefront festivities were AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Labor Council Secretary Sheila Cochran and Wisconsin AFL-CIO President David Newby.

Trumka told the crowd, “Working women and men in Milwaukee—and all across our country—made America ‘No. 1’ in the world.  Now it’s time for America to make working people ‘No.1!’.”

It’s time for JOBS.  For economic patriotism.  I want to see the words “Made in America” again—because it’s time to start exporting the things we make, instead of jobs!

Obama said the massive rebuilding project will build on the investments already made under the Recovery Act, and

create jobs for American workers to strengthen our economy now, and increase our nation’s growth and productivity in the future.

According to the White House the plan would:

-- Rebuild 150,000 miles of roads—renewing our commitment to the backbone of our transportation system;
-- Construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail—enough to go coast-to-coast;
-- Rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 miles of runway—while putting in place a NextGen air traffic control system that will reduce travel time and delays.
-- Create national infrastructure bank.

Click here for a fact sheet on the infrastructure plan.

Don Burmester, a member of Machinists Local 66 (IAM) said the emphasis on jobs is just the message he wanted to hear, and the message that needs to be sent in November.

We need to get regular people back to work. I’ve seen the other party put political games ahead of anything decent to make the president look bad.  We need to get the focus back on the economy and away from foolish political plays.

With just 57 days to go before the Nov. 2 election and with control of Congress at stake, Trumka said that Obama and Democratic leaders

share our vision of an America built on good jobs—and together, we’re going to get America back to work. It won’t be the bankers. It won’t be the Tea Partiers. It won’t be the Party of NO.

It’ll be you.  It’ll be us.  Together.

For more on the AFL-CIO’s Labor 2010 mobilization, click here.

Obama said that Republican leaders, the same ones whose decade of failed and flawed policies shattered the economy, have yet to offer any new ideas and strategies.

When the leader of their campaign committee was asked on national television what Republicans would do if they took over Congress, he actually said they’d follow “the exact same agenda” as they did before I took office. The exact same agenda.

So basically, they’re betting that between now and November, you’ll come down with a case of amnesia. They think you’ll forget what their agenda did to this country. They think you’ll just believe that they’ve changed. These are the folks whose policies helped devastate our middle class and drive our economy into a ditch. And now they’re asking you for the keys back.

Click here for Obama’s full remarks.

The day kicked off with a parade of more than 6,000 union members. The Milwaukee LaborFest, which dates back to 1965,  was just one of hundreds of Labor Day events that working people held across the nation to call for good jobs, a stronger middle class and high voter turn-out for November’s midterm elections. We’ll bring you a wrap up of Labor Day action tomorrow.