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Huffington Post: What's Obama Done for Workers in His First 100 Days? Plenty

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-30-09 01:47 PM
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Huffington Post: What's Obama Done for Workers in His First 100 Days? Plenty

Art LevineContributing editor of The Washington Monthly
Posted April 29, 2009 | 11:25 AM (EST)

In the media frenzy over Obama's first 100 days, his administration's new direction for workers' rights and safety concerns hasn't gotten the attention it deserves.

While some in the labor movement are doubtless disappointed at the slow pace of the Employee Free Choice Act in moving through Congress, there are enough key figures in the administration, including Vice President Joe Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, ensuring that the President keeps workers' priorities very much alive. That's why, in part, as the National Journal reported recently, "Labor Holds Its Fire: Despite setbacks, labor leaders have greeted the new administration as a liberator." The magazine observed, "Having been frustrated and even angered by the last two Democratic presidents, labor activists have decided to accentuate the positive when talking about the Obama administration."

There are a wide range of accomplishments that have already been enacted, from the $787 billion economic recovery package to initial reforms at OSHA to the passage of women's pay equity and children's health legislation. These and other initiatives justify the high marks labor leaders give President Obama. John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, pointed out, "Over their first 100 days in office, President Obama and Vice President Biden have laid down a foundation of change for America's working families. They have taken big, concrete steps on the economy, health care and the protection of workers' rights that will build a more prosperous and fair future for working people and America." As Anna Burger, SEIU Secretary Treasurer, observed, "The fact that so many Americans are optimistic and involved despite tough times -- that's the hidden news in Obama's first 100 days that holds such great promise for our country."

With the glaring exception of the troubled, potentially disastrous bank bailout plan that could undercut any economic recovery, the Obama administration deserves at least an A- when it comes to taking action on behalf of workers.

Among the accomplishments pointed to by the AFL-CIO and other leading labor groups, including SEIU, are these developments (some paraphrased by me) that would have been unimaginable under the pro-business crony capitalism driven by George Bush's economic and labor policies:

* Pass economic stimulus plan that includes balanced tax relief for working people and investments in jobs, education, healthcare, roads and bridges - DONE

* Pass SCHIP so more children have the healthcare they need - DONE

* Strengthen the voice of Americans to fight discrimination with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act - DONE

* Pass a budget that puts a real down-payment toward guaranteeing the quality, affordable healthcare Americans deserve - DONE

* Provide a significant investment in green jobs as a pathway to a strong middle class and a sustainable future - DONE

Strengthening the Middle Class

White House Task Force On Middle Class Working Families. On January 30, President Obama established a cabinet-level task force, chaired by Vice President Biden, whose mission is to raise the living standards of middle class working families.

Building a Team of Worker Advocates

FULL story at link.

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