U.S. President Barack Obama has lent his support to strengthening labor unions nationwide. The president claims that when unions are weak, the middle class suffers (video below).
Obama spoke to workers at the White House Summit on Worker Voice on Oct. 7, the New York Daily News reported.
The president told the crowd, which included Democratic lawmakers and union leaders, that while the economy has been improving, the average worker is being left behind and the middle class is shrinking.
“Labor unions were often the driving force of progress,” Obama said. “The middle class itself was built on a union label… I believe when people attack unions, they’re attacking the middle class. In today’s economy, we should make it easier for people to join unions, not harder.”
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The president also addressed the rising tech sector and its affect on the middle class.
“The economy's changing again. Technology is making it easier to do more with less," Obama said. "If the combination of globalization and automation undermines the capacity of the ordinary worker and ordinary family to be able to support themselves, if employers are able to use these factors to weaken workers' voices and give them a take it or leave it deal ... then we're going to have problems.”
The president criticized the right-to-work law, which has weakened labor unions across 25 states, the Daily Caller reports. Right-to-work laws forbid unions from charging dues and fees for employment, which has significantly drawn down memberships nationwide.
Obama asserts that unions allow workers the ability to pressure employers to raise wages. Without unions, Obama says, employees are powerless to ask for higher compensation.
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“Wages need to rise more quickly,” Obama says. “In order to do that, workers need a voice.”