Labor group wants Obama to go big on jobs plan

WASHINGTON Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:05pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The leader of the largest labor group called on President Barack Obama on Wednesday to offer an ambitious jobs program and said unions would be judging his plan as they decide where to throw their support as he runs for re-election in 2012.

"This is a time for boldness. And this is a moment that working people will judge all our leaders. Will they propose solutions that are on the scale necessary to address the job crisis that America has right now?" said Richard Trumka, president of the 12-million-member AFL-CIO.

Shortly before the labor federation's annual pre-Labor Day news conference, Obama asked for a joint session of Congress on September 7 to unveil his long-awaited jobs program, a high-profile and politically provocative venue.

Unions have traditionally been big supporters of Democratic politicians, including Obama, with major donations and by providing volunteers to campaign for politicians and get voters to the polls on Election Day.

Trumka, who has expressed frustration with the Democratic president over economic issues, warned that union support could be hit by the weak economy. The U.S. unemployment rate has been stuck at about 9 percent for months.

"If the economy is down it is going to be more difficult to educate and motivate and mobilize people," he said.

Seeking to lessen its reliance on the Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO has launched its own Super PAC, a political action committee which, thanks to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, can accept donations with virtually no limits from individuals, corporations and other unions.

A labor source noted that unions have already cut back on donations to candidates and party groups this year.

Trumka said the purpose of the PAC is to advocate year-round, not just in connection with elections, and reach workers who are not in unions.

But he made clear the union was ready to do what it could for Obama, if he did more on jobs. He said Republicans valued defeating Democrats more than the good of the country.

"He's (Obama) going to, I think, do everything he can to create jobs on the scale that we need it. We'll see if there's any kind of bipartisanship."

Trumka appeared with Obama at the White House earlier on Wednesday to urge Congress to quickly pass temporary funding bills for aviation and highway projects.

The AFL-CIO also presented on Wednesday its own jobs plan, which included more infrastructure spending, funding to stop layoffs of government workers, extending unemployment benefits and Wall Street reform.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

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Comments (2)
EN3 wrote:
Yeah right like they’re actually not going to support obama the unions are in his pocket. What the unions are really saying to president obama is, “hey we bought you.” We gave you millions to get elected so we want billions just like you did with the auto industry. Bottom line we need jobs not dumping billions of taxpayers dollars into supporting unions and special interest groups. Bottom line I have no idea what president obama is up to but I sure hope its worth it.

Aug 31, 2011 5:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
donm wrote:
Most of the ships in American waters are foreign, paying foreign tax as they bring foreign manufactured goods into America. President Obama is definitely not trying to change from a policy of foreign economic globalization with a communist country, to promote American manufacturing jobs instead. This is evident by:
The following report for Congress in DEC 2009 that explains that national ballast water legislation would do the same thing as tariffs, plus protect our environment from pathogens being dumped into our water and air by foreign ships bringing foreign manufactured imports into our country, stealing jobs from Americans. “Although estimates of the costs of ballast treatment may be imprecise and vary from vessel to
vessel, there is some general agreement on average costs.14 For example, it may cost an estimated $400,000 per vessel for modification of container/bulk vessels to use onshore ballast water treatment facilities at California ports. More generally, the cost of retrofitting vessels to treat
ballast water has been estimated at between $200,000 and $310,000 per vessel for mechanical
treatment and around $300,000 for chemical treatment.15 MOST OF THE EXPENSE WILL BE BORNE BY
So what if foreign ships have a cost or logistic problem retrofitting with the technology needed to protect Americas health and environment, manufacturing jobs are created where it is cheap and easy to deliver goods to consumers. Currently because of the Federal governments failure to create uniform protection to protect all Americans equally, foreign ships are receiving a free pass to destroy America’s environment while taking jobs away from Americans with the foreign manufactured goods imported on foreign ships. Failure to quickly enact a strong policy to protect our country from foreign economic interest destroying our environment will, forever be throwing away this chance for American manufacturing to again be competitive. The problem facing America an jobs is our politicians are bent on supporting economic globalization. Unfortunately our political leaders follow the advice from leaders of global companies that depend on foreign investments, as they supply money for our leaders political careers. Sadly American industries are regulated to the max, as foreign industries are allowed to trash the American environment and get away with it. (Gulf oil spill) We need politicians that will worry more about the dangers and destruction foreign economic interest create before going after American manufacturing pollution.

Sep 05, 2011 9:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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