Unions, The One Thing Missing From The State of the Union

(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Everyone had something to say about the State of the Union address.  Some loved it, other hated it.  The President talked about a wide range of issues, like gun control and  minimum wage.

Senator Harkin from Iowa, made one comment to THE HILL, that really caught my attention.

“… The president should have mentioned labor unions in his speech, explained Harkin, who has made labor one of his signature topics as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“And not one word in there about, if you want to rebuild the middle class, you’ve got to make it easier and better for people to organize and bargain collectively for their wages and for their conditions of their employment,” Harkin continued. “Not one word about that. And to me, that is the crux of their problem — is that people don’t have any power. They don’t have any power when they’re out there on the job. And you’ve got to have a balance. You’ve got to give workers more of a power to be able to bargain for things like their wages, for pensions, for family and medical leave, and paid sick leave and things like that.

“People just are powerless, and so I was just kind of upset and really saddened that he didn’t even give a nod to labor unions.”

“And you know what?” Harkin added. “He wouldn’t be there without labor unions, and neither would half of our Democrats in the Senate, I’ll tell you that.”

I am glad to know that I am not alone in thinking that workers rights laws need to be strengthen.  It is becoming hard and hard to organize, not because people do not want to be part of a union, but because the laws are so restrictive.

I also agree with Senator Harkin that a thank you would have been nice.  I am not asking for an invitation to the White House, just a simple thanks to all of the labor unions members who devoted hundreds of volunteer hours to help the Obama campaign and hundreds others.  In New Hampshire we made a huge lift.  We helped re-elect President Obama. We won back both seats in Congress from anti-union republicans.  We helped to elect Governor Maggie Hassan.  And most of all we completely flipped the NH House from the control of the TEA party extremists.

Like many things that unions have done, it does not go unnoticed, just unrecognized. Either way, I will be there next campaign to work to elect the people who respect workers and their rights to organize, happily.