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That was Obama statement repealing a number of Bush-era anti-union executive orders and creating a  White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, chaired by VP Joe Biden and no doubt staffed by former-Economic Policy Institute leader Jared Bernstein, who is working for Biden on economic issues.

I'll skip the substance of the exec order actions and emphasize that Obama statement as far more significant.  We have not had a President that so forthrightly identified the health of the nation with the health of the labor movement.  I'm sure Clinton and Carter never did and I'd be curious if anyone has quotes from LBJ or JFK said so strongly.  

Remembering that much of the upsurge in labor organizing in the 1930s came BEFORE the Wagner Act was allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court in 1937, in many ways the most significant tools of the labor movement that decade was FDR's statement early on that, President Roosevelt declared publicly, "If I were a worker I would join a union."  Union leaders used that statement to rally workers across the country.  Whether Obama's statement will have the same galvanizing effect is unclear, but it may help significantly -- and may help undercut the anti-union stance of Congressional opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act and other labor bills pending.

Originally posted to NathanNewman on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 09:01 AM PST.


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