Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day goof on Obama speech

It was early this morning as I prepared my post on Labor Day Weekend Quotables. Sleep was still in my eyes. I immediately turned to Huffington to grab some text from President Obama's annual Labor Day speech. It was a stem winder, knock-your-socks off speech aimed directly at Obama's union base--you know, the most powerful force behind his 2008 electoral victory. Here's the piece I pulled out for my blog:
We remember that the rights and benefits we enjoy today were not simply handed out to America's working men and women. They had to be won. They had to be fought for, by men and women of courage and conviction, from the factory floors of the Industrial Revolution to the shopping aisles of today's superstores. They stood up and spoke out to demand a fair shake; an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. Many risked their lives. Some gave their lives.
 And then this:

But in recent years, the American Dream seemed to slip away, because from Washington to Wall Street, too often a different culture prevailed. Wealth was valued over work, selfishness over sacrifice, greed over responsibility, the right to organize undermined rather than strengthened.

Finally, the best part of all:
That's why Secretary Solis has made it a priority at the Labor Department to protect workers-your safety, your benefits, your right to organize and bargain collectively. It's why some of the first executive orders I issued overturned the previous administration's attempts to stifle organized labor. It's why I support the Employee Free Choice Act-to level the playing field so it's easier for employees who want a union to form a union. Because when labor is strong, America is strong. When we all stand together, we all rise together.

The words sent a chill up my spine and put a grin on my face. "Yes," I said to myself. Obama has finally come back to the ideals he ran on. He's affirming workers' right to organize and even calling once again for passage of the Free Choice Act. There's a phrase we haven't heard in the past year and noticeably missing from Hilda Solis' Labor Day address last week.. It all started coming back to me--that same feeling I had that November night in Grant Park, celebrating the victory along with thousands that made up the new movement.

And then it struck me. Oh shit! Wait a minute. Obama wasn't speaking in Ohio yesterday. He was in Wisconsin. Damn, I'm reading last year's speech.

I turned back to the morning papers. Ah, there it was, a brief, tepid little talk with hardly any mention and little text in the Times and Post. Not a word about EFCA. Not a word about workers' rights to collective bargaining or standing up the culture of selfishness and greed. After much surfing, I did find some innocuous mid-term campaign rhetoric about not "handing back the keys" to the Republicans and posted it.

Things sure have changed in a year. Now it's sounding more and more like the keys have already been handed back. Maybe I'd better start blogging later in the day.

1 comment:

  1. One good thing we can support in Obama's Labor Day speech, was his announcement of an infrastructure repair plan that can put thousands of people back to work. Of course it could also be just a bunch of election jabber, which we are all used to by now.


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