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Granite State Rumblings: Federal Contractors Get Raise, NH Pushes Bill To Increase Minimum Wage

Just hours before the President delivered his fifth State of the Union address, the White House revealed that President Obama will issue an executive order to increase the minimum wage for new federal contract workers.

The action will cover all workers employed under future government contracts, ensuring that none is paid less than $10.10 an hour. In a fact sheet announcing the action, the White House highlighted several occupations that will be helped by the move, including kitchen and laundry workers on military bases, as well as janitors at federal buildings and construction workers at government building sites.

Then, in his State of the Union address, President Obama called on business leaders across the country to raise minimum wages. “Give America a raise,” he said.

“After four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled,” President Obama said.

“The cold, hard fact is that, even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by — let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.”

“Our job is to reverse these trends.  It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything.  But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.”

The President also urged Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, stressing the benefit to women, who hold a majority of lower-wage jobs. Raising women’s pay is just one way to “do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode,” he said.

The White House believes the issue is one that may find bipartisan backing in an election year. Recent polls show most Americans favor raising the minimum wage — nearly three-quarters in a Pew Research poll conducted this month.

In fact, a group of leading economists signed a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders in support of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

The letter, released by the Economic Policy Institute, endorses a Democratic proposal to raise the minimum wage by ninety-five cents a year over the next three years, and then to tie further increases to inflation. The plan, which is sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA), received the support of President Obama in November.

The letter’s signees, including seven Nobel laureates, say the Miller-Harkin plan would increase the wages of close to 17 million low-wage workers.

“The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families, disproportionately women, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on these earnings to make ends meet,” the letter reads, “At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.”

In his State of the Union address, the President made the following statement, “Americans understand that some people will earn more than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success.  But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.”

We agree.

Growing Up Granite

We do not know if Congress will increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. We do know, however, that it would affect thousands of workers here in New Hampshire.

In Sunday’s Nashua Telegraph, David Brooks writes:

How much would it increase pay, and for how many? That depends on the raise, of course, but the rate that Obama suggested would affect tens of thousands of people in New Hampshire.

As of 2012, there were 64 labor categories in the state, roughly half the entire list of categories, in which the average entry-level wage was below $10.10 – often far below.

Surveys run by New Hampshire Employment Security, for example, say that people working in the category “cooks, fast food” had an average entry-level hourly wage in 2012 of $8.15; maids were at $8.16; actors at $8.27; parking lot attendants at $8.29; “farmworkers, farm and ranch hands” at $8.52; and veterinary assistants at $8.60.

These are average starting wages, or the mathematical mean; which means many workers in each category make less than this when they start.

A think tank called the Economic Policy Institute estimated in December that a $10.10 minimum wage would directly affect 12.8 percent of all workers in the country. In New Hampshire, it estimated that 77,000 people currently make less than that rate, although that figure is extrapolated from national data.

The EPI estimated that a $10.10 minimum wage would affect 9.7 percent of working men and 14.7 percent of working women, a reflection of the larger number of females in low-paying occupations such as cleaning.

Even if Congress does not act, there is legislation here in the Granite State to raise the minimum wage, HB 1403. The bill calls for an increase to the minimum wage in two steps ($8.25 an hour and $9.00 an hour) and then indexing it to the cost of living after that.

The increase to $8.25 would take place on January 1, 2015.

The increase to $9.00 would take place on January 1, 2016.

Every January 1 after that, a new minimum wage, reflecting an annual cost of living adjustment, would take effect.  For instance, on January 1, 2017, a minimum wage of say $9.15 (depending on the rate of inflation) will take effect.  On January 1, 2018, the minimum would go up to $9.35 (again depending on inflation, etc.) and so on…

New Hampshire’s minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living. At $7.25 an hour – ($290.00 a week) – ($15,080.00 a year) – for a full-time employee, it leaves that worker with one child below the federal poverty level. And should s/he have more than 1 child, even deeper in poverty.

Poverty line Raising the minimum wage would help to lift hard working Granite State families out of poverty. It would help stimulate our economy, and it would help close the gender wage gap. Not only that – nearly ¾ of Americans support raising the minimum wage, according to a recent poll.

And in a January 2014 Public Policy Polling survey of New Hampshire voters when asked about raising the minimum wage, this is how they responded:

Q25 Would you support or oppose raising the
minimum wage to $10 an hour?

Support ……………… .60%
Oppose ……………… .29%
Not sure …………….. .11%

This bill has a hearing next Tuesday, February 11th at 10:15 am in the House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee. Please take the time this week to send an e-mail or call the committee members and let them know that you support raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

What’s Happening In New Hampshire

Tuesday, February 4, 1:45am – 2:45pm, SB203 Hearing – relative to permissible uses of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards *IMPORTANT*, SH 103 Finance

Click here to see more events in New Hampshire!

 

AFGE Issues Top 10 List of Actions Obama Should Take to Help Federal Workers

Union issues response to President’s call to action in State of the Union address

AFGE Logo 2

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, has outlined 10 issues President Obama can address today through executive order to improve the federal government’s workforce.

The Top 10 list comes in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he pledged to act without legislation “wherever and whenever” possible to expand opportunity for American families.

“These are concrete actions President Obama can take right now to address inequalities that currently exist in the federal workforce, while improving accountability and saving taxpayer dollars,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

The list:

1.      Align locality boundaries so hourly and salaried federal employees who work in the same location are treated the same when it comes drawing local pay area boundaries.  No private firm that pays geographic pay differentials treats its hourly and salaried employees differently in this respect and the federal government should follow suit.  The disparate treatment of federal workers who work side-by-side for the same employer is unfair and unproductive.

2.      Extend to Transportation Security Officers the same disciplinary appeal rights enjoyed by most federal employees, including Transportation Security Administration managers. Currently, TSOs are limited in their ability to appeal adverse actions to the Merit Systems Protection Board, instead having to rely primarily on an internal disciplinary review board within TSA.

3.      Immediately stop the Department of Veterans Affairs from downgrading low-wage positions, many of which go to veterans and disabled veterans. These downgrades, dubbed a “reclassification” by the agency, cut thousands of dollars annually from already paltry salaries, and when applied to current workers, cause reductions in salary and retirement benefits and degrade services to veterans.

4.      Free agencies from the Office of Management and Budget’s arbitrary constraints on the size of in-house workforces, so that they can instead manage by budgets and ceilings. If agencies have work to do and money to spend, there is no reason why federal employees cannot be used. Currently, these performance decisions are being dictated by arbitrary workforce caps and cuts.

5.      Provide agencies with a long-awaited costing methodology to govern the insourcing process and encourage them to look for opportunities to save money through intelligent insourcing.

6.      Direct agencies to expedite compliance with inventories of service contracts and integrate them into budget processes, so agencies have the same control over service contract spending that they have already over federal employee spending and can systematically identify bad contracts or contracts that cost too much.

7.      Direct the Department of Defense to stop using borrowed military manpower, which is resulting in scores of hard-working civil servants – many of them Wounded Warriors – being replaced with more expensive, less experienced military personnel.

8.      Ensure that the administration is ready to issue a rule to implement the statutory reduction in the annual cap on taxpayer subsidies on contractor compensation. In June, the cap will be reduced to $487,000 assuming the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council has issued the necessary rule.

9.      Support allowing Bureau of Prisons correctional officers who work in highly dangerous areas of federal prisons to routinely carry pepper spray to defend themselves if physically attacked by violent inmates.

10.  Order the U.S. Department of Agriculture to withdraw its proposal to radically overhaul the federal poultry inspection system by removing most federal inspectors from the slaughter line and turning over inspection activities currently performed by federal inspectors to untrained plant employees. The cost-cutting plan would endanger the health and safety of employees and the American public by allowing plants to increase their line speeds up to 175 chicken carcasses per minute. This means the lone remaining federal inspector on the slaughter line would have one-third of one second to examine each chicken carcass for disease, infection and contamination.

Immigration Reform and the State of the Union

A statement from the Immigration Policy Center: 

Tonight, President Barack Obama pressed the reset button and laid out his priorities for 2014—and, ultimately, the final leg of his presidency. During the State of the Union address, the President discussed the need to create jobs and greater opportunity for all. He also made it clear that immigration reform and economic recovery go hand-in-hand, and he expects the House of Representatives to make the next move on immigration reform. The President said:
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system.  Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted.  I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.  Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.  And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.  So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
The President’s inclusion of immigration as a matter of economic necessity reinforces efforts over the last few years to redefine how we think about immigration reform. Immigrants create jobs as consumers and entrepreneurs and spend their wages in U.S. businesses—buying food, clothes, appliances, cars, etc. This builds our economy as businesses respond to the presence of these new workers and consumers by investing in new restaurants, stores, and production facilities. Also immigrants are 30 percent more likely than the native-born to start their own business. The end result is more jobs for more workers.
The President’s message on immigration extended beyond his speech. Immigrants and immigration activists attended as guests of Congress and the First Lady. Mrs. Obama invited two immigrants to attend as her guests: Cristian Avila, a DREAMer and DACA recipient who recently completed a 22-day fast on the National Mall in support of immigration reform and Carlos Arredondo, a Costa-Rican-American peace activist made famous by his heroic acts after the Boston Marathon bombing.

These guests remind us of the humanitarian nature of immigration reform that cannot, and should not be overlooked.  As we grapple with efforts to create a more just and equal system in which everyone has a fair shot at economic prosperity, we cannot forget the need for a fair and just immigration system.  Deportations that separate families, disrupt businesses, and destroy hopes and dreams help no one and ultimately do not reflect our tradition as a nation of immigrants.
Tonight, the President reiterated that he is prepared to use the authority of his office to push a range of initiatives forward. Thus, if 2014 is to truly be a year of action and opportunity, we encourage the president not only to support efforts to complete immigration reform, but to do all in his power to end needless costs—to families, to workers, and to the economy—of an immigration system that does not fulfill the promise of America.

AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Randi Weingarten

WASHINGTON— Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s State of the Union address. Two AFT members joined first lady Michelle Obama to watch the address: Washington, D.C. Teacher of the Year Kathy Hollowell-Makle, and Antoinette Tuff, a DeKalb County, Ga. bookkeeper who talked down a shooter at the elementary school where she worked.

“We are a stronger nation when we champion opportunity, reward work and create a path to success for all of our citizens. The forward-seeking agenda that President Obama laid out tonight combats the economic inequality many working Americans face with real and practical solutions that raise people up—not deepen wealth divisions—by increasing the minimum wage and  putting Americans back to work in good jobs with family-friendly policies like paid sick leave, expanding early childhood education, making college affordable, and creating a new retirement savings program called MyRA. And by using the first words of his address to honor the dedication of teachers, the president highlighted the importance of educators and our schools in helping our children achieve their dreams. We cannot rest until we fully re-establish the steps on the ladder to opportunity and give working families a shot at the American dream. The president has heard the American people, and we now must heed his call for action.

“A vibrant economy and a high-quality public education system have been and always will be intertwined. It’s no coincidence that when our nation summoned the political will to launch a war on poverty 50 years ago, we not only slashed poverty rates, put Americans back to work and rebuilt communities, but also witnessed a rapid spike in student achievement that has yet to be repeated. The black-white reading gap alone shrank by two-thirds from the 1960s to the 1980s.

“While we can’t replicate today the same strategies employed 50 years ago, the American people need leaders willing to expand opportunity and help re-create a path to the middle class. We must build on what the president laid out tonight. It starts with investing in early childhood education, making college affordable, making public schools the center of communities, and, equipping students with essential life skills and offering multiple paths to graduation and the world of work through rigorous career and technical education programs. We need to reject sequestration and austerity, and invest in the services that keep our communities safe and vibrant and our families healthy. We need good jobs with living wages and opportunities for workers to develop new skills and compete in a changing workforce; unions can play an important role in both creating a highway to the middle class for workers, and partnering with government and the private sector to create career-ladder opportunities like we’ve done for paraprofessionals in New York City, Baltimore and elsewhere. We need to do more to ensure people have a secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work. We can create good jobs today and invest in our future by putting Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure. And we need to stop just debating it and finally pass comprehensive immigration reform to end exploitation and strengthen our economy.

“The American people expect and deserve their leaders to act on their behalf to move an agenda the expands economic opportunity and reclaims the promise of public education for all children. With too many families still feeling the sting of an economy tilted against them, we simply can’t wait.”

Sequester Gives Kids A Kick To The Head Start

Head StartOnce again Congress is attacking the poor working families.  These are the families that rely on programs like Head Start to get their children started in education the right way.  Time and time again is has been proven in studies like this one from the US Dept of Health and Human Services, that head start programs help children excel in school.  These types of programs have an even bigger impact on the low-income communities, who who otherwise not be able to send their children to a pre-school class.

The gains of pre-school education have been seen by everyone all the way up to the White House.  This is why President Obama pushed for an expanded pre-school program in his State of the Union address.

“Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road.  But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.  Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool.  And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.

Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.”

If Head Start is so good then why is Hudson Head Start forcing more kids out of the program. You can thank the Tea Party Republicans who forced us into the Sequester.

The Sequester is the government debt reduction plan, that slashes 5% of funding for every line item in the budget.   The Sequester was a bad idea when it was proposed, and everyone knew it.  Nobody including the President every thought Congress would let the sequester actually happen.  The sequester was ment to be something so bad that both sides would actually work together to ensure that it never went into effect.  That was the plan, and the plan was and #EpicFail.

New Hampshire may be one of the smallest users of head start, but that does not mean it is not being effected.  Due to sequester cuts NH will loose $733,000 in head start funding.  These cuts are forcing the closure of two classrooms by Southern New Hampshire Service who oversees the program in parts of Southern NH.  They will be shutting the door to 9-11 employees and forcing 18 children to find another head start school (if they can) to attend.

This may seem like a minor inconvenience for a few people and a few of the families in Hudson.  But this is Husdon, NH.  They have less that 25,000 people in the town, and this is what they are doing to their Head Start program.  Can you only imagine what that will mean for bigger school districts, and communities with much higher levels of poverty than Hudson?

Across the country these ridiculously stupid sequester cuts will slam the door of economic and educational opportunity for more than 70,000 children.  Head Start is specifically targeted to those families who could not otherwise afford to send their child to a pre-school program.  Once again, Congress is balancing the budget on the backs of working families.  They are taking away the programs that are designed to lift low-income families out of poverty.

Tell Congress you will not stand for this any longer.  Tell Congress they must end the sequester cuts now.  We have seen over the last few weeks how fast Congress can act when they actually want to pass legislation.  They need to act like that now! They need to work together to save programs like Head Start and the hundreds of other programs being slashed by the sequester cuts.

President Obama Can Do So Much More For Labor Unions

President Obama followed up his omission of labor unions during his Inaugural Address by doing the same at his State of The Union speech.Senator Tom Harkin, a long time advocate of working people summed up the feelings of many in the labor movement during an interview with “The Hill”.

“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.”

President Obama is not stepping up to the plate to protect unions at any level. He would not be in the oval office today without the work of unions but he for some reason refuses to acknowledge them.

The Postal Service is the largest collection of union workers in this country and they are being decimated by congressional mandates. Congress is silently watching as Saturday mail delivery is eliminated and this will further serve to accelerate a death spiral for the Postal Service. A blow to the American people and the Labor Movement. Not one mention by our President.

Its time for President Obama to take actions that will make life better for working Americans on Main St.  The Republicans are already the party representing Wall St. We do not need another political party doing that.

President Obama, when you needed help from labor unions we were there for you. Just like unions step up and protect millions of Americans every day. It’s now time that you stand up for us.

Why Raising Th Minimum Wage Is A No Brainer

What do we want? A stronger middle class! When do we want it? NOW!

Every politician made claims that they want to strengthen the middle class. Now it is time to put up or shut up!

Durning the State of the Union address the President made a call to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour by the end of 2015.  A raise that is far overdue.

Workers have been pushed down for too long, and now the middle class is shrinking.  Overall wages have been stagnent and by not raising the bottom line all workers have been effected.  Raising the minimum wage will in turn lift all wages.

Raising the minimum wage will automatically boost the wages of 15 million people.   Locally that would help at least 15,000 minimum wage earners.  The numbers vary because there are 42,000 tipped employees who are currently paid $2.13 per hour as a base.  Lifting the wage will ensure that working families do not live in poverty.  Isn’t that what the minimum wage law was designed to do?

I also agree with President Obama that we need to create an automatic increase to the minimum wage to ensure that wages rise with inflation.  President Obama proposes that we tie minimum wage to the cost of living index.

Since everyone agrees that poverty is a major issue in the United States, raising the minium wage should be the first thing we do to combat poverty.

Raising the wage should be a no brainer for both sides of the aisle.  Republicans want people off government assistance programs and Democrats want people to earn a living wage. Raising the minimum wage will do both.  It will also increase the taxes coming into the government, while decreasing spending on assistance programs. It is a total win-win.

Now that people are no longer living in poverty our economy will start to improve on its own, because people once again have money to spend.

The State Of The Union Address Pushes For Higher Minimum Wage And More

(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

During the Presidents State of the Union address, the President hit on three key issues for labor.  The need to stop Sequestration, Fix it First campaign and raising the minimum wage.

Those who understand what sequestration is and what it would do to our country are sitting on the edges of our seats to see if anyone in Washington can stop it.  Sequestration is the automatic budget cuts that economist say would immediately send our economy back into recession, and force millions out of work.

“These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness.  They’d devastate priorities like education, and energy, and medical research.  They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.  That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as the sequester, are a really bad idea. “

There have been many different solutions being offered on Capitol Hill.  Some say, ‘let the cuts happen’ and force the austerity the radical right want.  Other say we need to make dramatic cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  The good thing is that the President agrees with us that we need to protect Social Security and Medicare.

“Now, some in Congress have proposed preventing only the defense cuts by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training, Medicare and Social Security benefits.  That idea is even worse.”

The most sound idea yet is to reform the tax code and reduce the loopholes allowing corporations to profit from exporting jobs and subsidies.  There will be a bill introduced into the Senate this week to close nearly $1 Billion worth of loopholes in an effort to avoid automatic cuts.

While we are waiting to see what happens with the Sequestration cuts, the President is proposing a monumental program to “Fix It First”.  There is no denying that every state in America has bridges are roads that are in dire need of repair.

“I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.  And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most:  modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools worthy of our children.”

For many years states have fallen behind in their responsibilities to maintain the infrastructure that the Federal Government helped to create.  Every year in New Hampshire we are adding another $74 Million dollars of repairs that not being completed.

As part of building a better America, President Obama made a call to raise the minimum wage.

“Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.”

I will be the first to say that a raise to the minimum wage must be raised.  I applaud the effort to raise the minimum to $9.00 however I think it should be more. The key to the President’s is in the fine print.

“Let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.”

That is something that should have been done 70 years ago when minimum wage started but I will take it now.  Working families should not see their paychecks go down every year to the rising cost of living while their pay stays flat.

“Stronger families.  Stronger communities.  A stronger America.  It is this kind of prosperity — broad, shared, built on a thriving middle class — that has always been the source of our progress at home.”

Overall it was a great speech from a great speaker.  President Obama also touched on many other issues including gun reforms, violence against women, paycheck fairness, and immigration. All of these will help move our country forward and build a health middle class once again.

AFL-CIO President Trumka’s Statement on State of the Union Address

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement in response to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address:

From WIKIPediaTonight President Obama sent a clear message to the world that he will stand and fight for working America’s values and priorities. And with the foundation he laid, working families will fight by his side to build an economy that works for all.

President Obama rightly put rising wages and good jobs as his top priority, and we fully support him. We applaud the President for expressing support for raising the minimum wage and tying it to the cost of living, ensuring the right to vote and promoting early childhood education. President Obama—and the Congress— need to end the destructive obstructionism and wrong-headed austerity that weaken our economic recovery. As the President said tonight, creating good jobs requires a deep commitment to building our economy for the next generation, including investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and high-quality education and public services.

We need an immediate solution to growth-killing sequestration cuts and a balanced approach to deficit reduction, including steps such as closing tax loopholes, including the carried interest loophole and tax subsidies for offshoring jobs. And together, we must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefit cuts.

We share the President’s urgent belief in the importance of a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans who call this country home, and we are fully committed to making that a reality. Reform of our immigration laws must reflect America’s values as a democratic society, and not create a second class of workers, whether through a temporary worker program or by restricting the ability of the undocumented to someday attain citizenship. Strong protections for worker standards and worker rights are essential to the economic future of all working people.

Today’s economic challenges result directly from decades of inadequate job growth, wage stagnation and growing inequality. If there is one tool workers need to succeed, it is the right to organize and bargain collectively. Throughout his public service, the President has been a proud and strong voice for the rights of workers and we call on him to use his voice more consistently and more powerfully going forward. Working people need his leadership more than ever. More important, our country needs to empower workers if we hope to achieve real, sustainable, broadly shared economic growth.

In the end, the President’s words are meaningless if they do not produce action—and it is our responsibility to fight for the President’s vision and the policies outlined tonight. We ask all our country’s elected leaders to join with President Obama in confronting the most pressing issues of our time with courage, humanity, and unity .

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