(Jan. 21, 2015) — Following are statements by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson regarding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
“The president’s focus on raising wages through collective bargaining, better paying jobs, a fairer tax code, fair overtime rules, and expanded access to education and earned leave sent the right message at the right time.
“So did his embrace of union apprentices and immigrants who want to achieve the American Dream. The president has again demonstrated his strong commitment to creating an economy that truly works for all working people.
“Fighting income inequality is one of the biggest challenges of our time. As Oxfam recently reminded us, the world’s wealth continues to be increasingly concentrated in the hands of a very few. If we are serious about solving this monumental challenge, the size of the solutions must meet the scale of the problem.
We must have a similarly vigorous response to the barriers to raising wages: our opposition to fast-tracked trade deals that are giant giveaways to big corporations must be resolute. We can’t face the competitive challenge of China with a trade deal that fails to adequately address currency manipulation, climate change or that gives corporations rights that people don’t have.
“Now is the time for politicians to champion a Raising Wages agenda that ties all the pieces of economic and social justice together. America has now heard what the president thinks about this agenda. We thank the president for his passion and his advocacy. We are ready to see what he and Congress will do about it. That is the ultimate standard of accountability.”
“President Obama hit the ball out of the park with a populist economic message that labor has been advocating for some time — give workers a raise, raise the minimum wage, provide paid sick leave of at least 7 days for all American workers, equalize the pay between men and women, rebuild America’s infrastructure, make the rich pay their fair share of taxes, lower student debt, and provide free Community College education for all.
“The president said that not only were these the right things to do but they will strengthen our communities and our economy. But given the sour look on Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s face through much of the speech, unfortunately, I don’t think we should expect any thing other than more policies favorable to the 1% from Congress.”
Missed the speech? Here you go: