President Obama Echoes Past President, Says He Would Join a Union

President Obama speaking at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting. Seated (from left): AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker.

In a speech this week to the AFL-CIO Executive Council in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama recalled the words of Franklin Roosevelt to describe the enduring value of labor unions in America.

“If I was a worker in a factory and I wanted to improve my life, I would join a union,” declared President Obama in response to a question from AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka.  “I think if I was a coal miner, I’d want a union representing me to make sure that I was safe and you did not have some of the tragedies that we’ve been seeing in the coal industry. If I was a teacher, I’d want a union to make sure that the teachers’ perspective was represented as we think about shaping an education system for our future.”

President Obama also spoke at length about the challenges facing union members and working families in the current jobs recession, citing the corporate canard that unions have no place in today’s free market economy.

“But it is my profound belief that companies are stronger when their workers are getting paid well and have decent benefits and are treated with dignity and respect,” said Obama.

“It is my profound belief that our government works best when it’s not being run on behalf of special interests, but it’s being run on behalf of the public interest, and that the dedication of public servants reflects that.”

You can the full text of President Obama’s remarks by clicking here.