President Barack Obama’s 2011 Labor Day Speech [Transcript]
Today, the President addressed crowds in Detroit, Michigan, where he discussed the economy, jobs, the middle class and especially those who made the possible — unions.† Plus, video of the pre-speech crowd.
From President Barack Obama’s speech:
I am honored, we are honored, to spend this day with you and your families — the working men and women of America. This day belongs to you. You deserve a little R&R, a little barbecue — (laughter) — little grilling — because youíve been working hard. Youíve been working hard to make ends meet. Youíve been working hard to build a better life for your kids. Youíve been working hard to build a better Detroit. But thatís not all Iím going to talk to you about.
I also want to talk about the work youíve been doing for decades: Work to make sure that folks get an honest dayís pay for an honest dayís work. Work to make sure that families get a fair shake. The work you’ve done that helped build the greatest middle class the world has ever known. Iím talking about the work that got us a 40-hour workweek and weekends, and paid leave and pensions, and the minimum wage and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare — (applause) — the cornerstones of middle-class security. That’s because of your work.
If you want to know who helped lay these cornerstones of an American middle class you just have to look for the union label.
Thatís the bedrock this country is built on. Hard work. Responsibility. Sacrifice. Looking out for one another. Giving everybody a shot, everybody a chance to share in Americaís prosperity, from the factory floor to the boardroom. Thatís what unions are all about.
And thatís something thatís worth keeping in mind today. Weíve come through a difficult decade in which those values were all too often given short shrift. Weíve gone through a decade where wealth was valued over work, and greed was valued over responsibility. And the decks were too often stacked against ordinary folks in favor of the special interests. And everywhere I went while I was running for this office, I met folks who felt their economic security slipping away, men and women who were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat. And that was even before the economic crisis hit, and that just made things even harder.
So these are tough times for working Americans. Theyíre even tougher for Americans who are looking for work Ė- and a lot of them have been looking for work for a long time. A lot of folks have been looking for work for a long time here in Detroit, and all across Michigan, and all across the Midwest, and all across the country. So weíve got a lot more work to do to recover fully from this recession.
But Iím not satisfied just to get back to where we were before the recession; weíve got to fully restore the middle class in America. And America cannot have a strong, growing economy without a strong, growing middle class and without a strong labor movement.
Thatís the central challenge that we face in our country today. Thatís at the core of why I ran for President. Thatís what Iíve been fighting for since Iíve been President. Everything weíve done, itís been thinking about you.
Click here to read the full transcript of Obama’s speech, via the Detroit Press.
photo credit: Chuck Kennedy, White House Photostream