Addressing the United Auto Workers union, AFL-CIO and the Metro Detroit Central Labor Council in Detroit on Labor Day, President Obama said, “We stood by the auto industry and made some tough choices and now the Big Three are turning a profit and hiring new workers. Right here in Detroit, right here in the Midwest, right here in the United States of America.”
The president’s appearance at a rally held before the annual Labor Day parade is being heralded by many as a sign of the White House’s support of the UAW in its ongoing contract negotiations with General Motors Company, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Group LLC.
UAW Local 931 member Kim Janeski said Mr. Obama’s appearance “gives a little more weight to the contract negotiations,” and added, “The federal government is behind us as workers.”
Another sign of the administration’s solidarity with labor is the fact that UAW President Bob King accompanied the president on Air Force One as he traveled to Detroit. King also departed with Mr. Obama on Air Force One following the event.
UAW Secretary and Treasurer Dennis Williams also addressed the crowd saying, “If it wasn’t for President Obama, we would not have the opportunity to once again build the best cars and trucks in the whole world.”
The theme for this year’s Labor Day parade and celebration was “Labor and Community – We Are One” and it was a theme that President Obama echoed during his prepared speech. “If you want to know who helped lay these cornerstones of an American middle class,” said Mr. Obama, “you just have to look for the union label.”
Speaking to a group of tens of thousands, gathered on the parking lot in front of General Motors Company’s Renaissance Center, President Obama said, “As long as I’m in the White House, I’m going to stand up for collective bargaining.”
Other speakers at the event included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Teamsters President James Hoffa who has drawn criticism for provocative remarks he made about the Tea Party during his speech.
The current UAW contracts with GM, Ford and Chrysler are set to expire next Wednesday and negotiators are reportedly working hard to reach agreements on a number of issues including profit-sharing, wages and job commitments.
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