President Obama’s Weekly Address: Commemorating Labor Day But Not Labor

What follows is the press release of President Obama’s Labor Day address. It is full of nice sentiments amorphously framed.

How does a Democratic president deliver make a statement commemorating Labor Day without ever using any of the following words: “union,” “bargaining unit,” “organized labor,” or even “labor.”

During the Democratic Convention in 2012, the AFL-CIO held a massive rally in Philadelphia, tacitly protesting the decision to hold the convention in the “right-to-work” state of North Carolina. A union officer at that rally was asked if he would vote for Obama despite the president’s lukewarm support of organized labor. After thinking for a moment, the man said, “The choice between Romney and Obama may be a choice between a cerebral hemorrhage and a slow bleed, but who is going to choose the cerebral hemorrhage?”

That’s where we are. Low-wage workers employed in dozens of occupational sectors across the nation are trying to organize in order to receive a living wage and some minimal level of benefits, but the President can’t bring himself to use the word “union.”


WASHINGTON, DC—In his weekly address, President Obama spoke about Labor Day and reflected on the contributions of the working men and women in our country.  The President said that by recommitting ourselves to the values of working Americans and coming together with common purpose, we can ensure that everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at at 6:00 a.m. ET, August 31, 2013.


Hi, everybody.  This Labor Day weekend, as we gather with family and friends, we’ll also come together as a nation to honor some of our own – the working men and women of America who, across the generations, built this country up and helped make us who we are today.

On Monday, we’ll celebrate that proud history.  We’ll pay tribute to the values working Americans embody – hard work; responsibility; sacrifice; looking out for one another.  And we’ll recommit ourselves to their cause; to securing for them a better bargain so that everyone who works hard in America has a chance to get ahead.

See, over the past four and a half years, we’ve fought our way back from the worst recession of our lifetimes.  And thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve begun to lay a foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.  But as any working family will tell you, we’re not where we need to be.

For over a decade, working Americans have seen their wages and incomes stagnate, even as corporate profits soar and the pay of a fortunate few explodes.  For even longer than that, inequality has steadily risen; the journey of upward mobility has become harder.  And in too many communities across this country, the shadow of poverty continues to cast a pall over our fellow citizens.

Reversing that trend needs to be Washington’s highest priority.  It’s certainly mine.  That’s why, over the past month, I’ve traveled all across America, laying out my ideas for how we can build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class.  A good job that pays a good wage.  A good education.  A home of your own.  Health care when you get sick.  A secure retirement even if you’re not rich.  And more chances for folks to earn their way into the middle class as long as they’re willing to work for it.

The truth is, it’s not going to be easy to reverse the forces that have conspired – for decades – against working Americans.  But if we take a few bold steps – and if Washington is able to come together with common purpose and common resolve – we’ll get there.  Our economy will keep getting stronger and more Americans will be able to join the ranks of the middle-class.

So this Labor Day, while you’re out there grilling in the backyard, or taking that final trip for the summer, I hope you’ll also take a moment to reflect on the many contributions of our working men and women.  For generations, it was the great American middle class that made our economy the envy of the world.  And as long as I’m President, I’m going to keep fighting to make sure that happens again.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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