by Brian Washington
President Obama spent Labor Day celebrating the victories he says many of us take for granted—the gains made by organized labor, including the 40-hour workweek, overtime pay, and a minimum wage.
The President traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin today to be the guest speaker at Laborfest 2014. This was his third time in six years speaking to the crowd of thousands who turned out to celebrate the achievements of the state’s working men and woman and their unions.
President Obama reminded the crowd that the labor movement’s achievements are no accident.
It happened because America’s workers organized for it, fought for it,” said President Obama. “History shows that working families can get a fair shot in this country, but only if we’re wiling to fight for it.
The President also used this visit to highlight the economic gains made by his administration—including a rebounding economy, a stronger auto industry, key investments in homegrown energy, and a high school graduation rate that is at a record high.
However, he says there’s still more work to do, including raising the minimum wage. He urged those in attendance to put more pressure on Congress to do so.
Among those joining the president at today’s event was Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the newly-elected president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union. Today was Eskelsen Garcia’s first day as president. She used the holiday to recognize working Americans and their unions.
“The story of America is the story of its working people—their struggles and successes and their hopes for a better future for themselves and their families,” said Eskelsen Garcia in a statement. “For decades, labor unions have led the way for millions of Americans to achieve economic security and progress by giving workers a voice and bigger say in our economy and our political system.”
The NEA represents about 3 million teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty, and college students studying to be educators. In addition to fighting to ensure that all students have access to quality public schools, the NEA also has a long, rich, and robust history of working on those social justice issues that matter to Americans.
“As we pause, reflect and celebrate Labor Day, I urge all Americans to roll up their sleeves and join us in our fight for the issues that matter to our members, families, and communities—investing in education, creating jobs to move the economy forward, raising the minimum wage to improve the lives of working families and making college more affordable,” said Eskelsen Garcia. “This is the fight worth having because so much is at stake for our children.”
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