Leo W. Gerard: President Obama Must Speak the Word ‘Union’ Loudly

President Obama demonstrated his gutsiness in recent months by speaking so many words that craven politicians contend cannot be spoken.

These are hot-button words like same sex-marriage, immigration reform, gun control and climate change. Fighting words. The president even specifically addressedthree of these in his second inaugural speech — the civil rights of gay Americans, the threat of climate change and the need for immigration reform.

Taking on any one of these issues, let alone all of them at once, illustrates the audacity of the guy. That’s good because another inflammatory word must be placed on his to-say list: Union. Radical Republicans and the multi-national corporations that fill their moneybags are brazenly attacking labor unions, attempting to deny all workers the right to collectively bargain. President Obama must forcefully condemn this malicious campaign to undermine the American middle class. He must proclaim to the whole country, not just to labor union members, that he will protect the right of workers to use the power of collective action to secure equitable wages.

Obama has assured union members he has their back. Here’s what he said in his first Labor Day speech in 2009:

So let us never forget: much of what we take for granted — the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare — they all bear the union label. It was the American worker — union men and women — who returned from World War II to make our economy the envy of the world. It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. So even if you’re not a union member, every American owes something to America’s labor movement.

 

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