President Obama and Vice President Biden deliver pro-union speeches

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Labor Day was all about unions for the White House.

In a speech he gave for the Greater Boston labor Council to honor Labor Day, President Barack Obama announced he had signed an executive order to give employees of federal contractors seven days of paid sick leave every year.

It only applies to about 300,000 people, but making paid sick leave a reality for all U.S. workers has been one of the president’s priorities and this is viewed as a start. “You have parents who have to choose between coming to work or staying home with their sick child. That’s not good for anybody.”

Vice President Joe Biden giving his speech in Pittsburgh, PA before a crowd of enthusiastic union members. The incendiary nature of his speech made some pundits wonder if he was gearing up for another run at the presidency. (YouTube)
Vice President Joe Biden giving his speech in Pittsburgh, PA before a crowd of enthusiastic union members. The incendiary nature of his speech made some pundits wonder if he was gearing up for another run at the presidency. (YouTube)

During his speech President Obama listed all the ways the Labor Movement contributed to help create a middle class. The crowd cheered until he used former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, the man who let a ball roll between his legs, allowing the New York Mets to win game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets then went on to win Game 7, denying the Red Sox a World Series title. The president said if the Republicans shut down government again it would be like “a ground ball slipping between someone’s legs.” The crowd collectively moaned, until the president reminded then the Sox have won two World Series since then.

He also used New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as an example, citing the NFL Players Association having Brady’s back in the “Deflategate” controversy. “You know if Brady needs a union, we definitely need unions.”

President Obama is following the lead of cities and companies that have already expanded paid sick leave and he called on Congress to enact legislation that would require companies with more than 15 employees to provide paid sick leave.

The president pointed out, “Right now we are the only advanced nation on Earth that does not guarantee paid maternity leave.”

While the president was in Boston, Vice President Joe Biden was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to give a fiery speech in front of union dignitaries and members before a Labor Day parade.

He spoke about the growing income gap in America, saying “There’s something wrong.”

Vice President Biden marching in the parade with union leaders Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers and AFL-CIO President  Richard Trumpka. (YouTube)
Vice President Biden marching in the parade with union leaders Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka. (YouTube)

He told the assembled crowd the National Chamber of Commerce declared war on Labor’s house. “Flat out declared war. Not a joke, not an exaggeration, because you’re the only ones who have the power to keep the barbarians from the gates, man.”

Wearing a United Steelworkers cap, the vice president told the crowd, “You built the Middle Class. That’s not an exaggeration. And as you’ve declined the Middle Class has declined,” he said, referencing the decline in union membership.

For both the president and vice president, the day was devoted to giving their base exactly what they wanted to hear: unions are the key to building a prosperous Middle Class and therefore a prosperous nation.

 

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