Speaking at the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic:
Here are some of the highlights from the transcript.
Praising some of the labor movement's past accomplishments:
"So let us never forget: much of what we take for granted--the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare--they all bear the union label. It was the American worker--union men and women--who returned from World War II to make our economy the envy of the world. It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. So even if you're not a union member, every American owes something to America's labor movement."
Linking the economic crisis to the cultural values that enabled it:
"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. That's what we saw. And while it may have worked out well for a few at the top, it sure didn't work out well for our country."
"And few have fought harder or longer for health care and America's workers than you--our brothers and sisters of organized labor. And just as we know that we must adapt to all the changes and challenges of a global economy, we also know this: in good economic times and bad, labor is not part of the problem. Labor is part of the solution. 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."