The following is a statement by national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
President Obama was exactly right when he spoke of the stubborn resilience of the American people in the face of adversity. Despite daily insecurity and the deep hurt of not being able to find jobs, working people’s goodness, decency and hard work have kept our country going.
But Americans are also deeply frustrated and angry. We want to see elected leaders who’ll fight for us and bring real change. We want jobs—President Obama is absolutely right that jobs must be our number one focus in 2010. And we must act on a scale that will be meaningful: We need more than 10 million jobs just to get out of the hole we’re in. We want health care fixed. We want our leaders to break the stranglehold of Wall Street and the big banks and make them pay to repair the economic damage they created.
President Obama spoke directly to those concerns tonight. He called for a jobs bill and putting people to work. He called for America to take its place as a world leader by investing in our economic foundation, education, infrastructure and energy technology. He demanded tough financial reform. He called for curbing corporate influence, stopping tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and enforcing trade rules. He committed to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. And he said we must finish the job of reforming health care.
The President was right to call out Republicans for obstructing change and putting politics ahead of progress.
Now it’s time for all of us to get busy and work together to bring the big changes that are essential—starting with enacting a jobs bill that is big enough to create jobs for the millions of people who want to work and can’t find jobs. The time for small change is long gone. We were pleased to see that the President embraced two of the job creation proposals we have made – investing in infrastructure and helping small businesses get credit through TARP funds.
We’re ready to fight for the President’s vision – and we’re going to insist that it be done right. That includes restoring the freedom of workers to bargain to make jobs into good jobs by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.
We will not agree with every aspect of every proposal. We will continue to be an independent voice for middle class Americans and fight for the change working families need—and we are ready to do more. This is the time for a broad movement of Americans demanding jobs and an economy that works for all, and we’re ready to put our energy and leadership into building that movement—taking the fight to the doorstep of the banks that are exploiting struggling homeowners, of corporations that are running away from communities and of lawmakers who choose to back them up.
We hope elected leaders at every level will choose instead to lead with action. Working America is watching to see what they do. We are in a “show me” kind of mood and we are ready to see results.