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To build a stronger middle class in today’s changing economy, we’ve got to keep fighting. We’ve got to fight for the right to affordable health insurance for everybody. The right to fair pay, family leave, and workplace flexibility. The right to a fair living wage.
Leading up to Labor Day, President Obama once again used his weekly address to focus on the minimum wage—specifically, the need for a raise, which congressional Republicans are blocking. Not all workers need to wait for Congress, though:
Thirteen states and D.C. have done their part by raising their minimum wages. Four more states have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot this November. And the states where the minimum wage has gone up this year have experienced higher job growth than the states that haven’t.

Business leaders at companies like The Gap are doing their part. They’re raising base wages for tens of thousands of workers because they know it’s good for business.

Mayors across the country are doing their part. Mayor Emanuel in Chicago and Mayor Garcetti in L.A. are working to lift their cities’ wages over time to at least thirteen dollars an hour.

Barely mentioned in this Labor Day-focused address? Unions. Business rates five mentions, unions only one.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
August 30, 2014

Hi, everybody.  Whether you’re firing up the grill, fired up for some college football, or filling up the car for one last summer roadtrip – Happy Labor Day weekend.

We set aside Labor Day to honor the working men and women of America.  And this Labor Day, we’ve got more to celebrate.  Over the past 53 months, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs.  Last month, for the first time since 1997, we created more than 200,000 jobs for six straight months.  And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders worldwide have declared, two years running, that the number one place to invest isn’t China – it’s America.

So there are reasons to be optimistic about where we’re headed.  And the decisions we make now will determine whether or not we accelerate this progress – whether economic gains flow to a few at the top, or whether a growing economy fuels rising incomes and a thriving middle class.

Think about it this Labor Day.  The things we often take for granted – Social Security and Medicare, workplace safety laws and the right to organize for better pay and benefits, even weekends – we didn’t always have these things.  Workers and the unions who get their back had to fight for them.  And those fights built a stronger middle class.

To build a stronger middle class in today’s changing economy, we’ve got to keep fighting.  We’ve got to fight for the right to affordable health insurance for everybody.  The right to fair pay, family leave, and workplace flexibility.  The right to a fair living wage.

Let me focus on that last one for a minute.  In America, no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.  A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.  And raising the minimum wage would be one of the best ways to give a boost to working families.  It would help around 28 million Americans from all walks of life pay the bills, provide for their kids, and spend that money at local businesses.  And that grows the economy for everyone.

The bottom line is, America deserves a raise.  But until we’ve got a Congress that cares about raising working folks’ wages, it’s up to the rest of us to make it happen.  And in the year and a half since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, Americans of all walks of life are doing just that.

Thirteen states and D.C. have done their part by raising their minimum wages.  Four more states have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot this November.  And the states where the minimum wage has gone up this year have experienced higher job growth than the states that haven’t.

Business leaders at companies like The Gap are doing their part.  They’re raising base wages for tens of thousands of workers because they know it’s good for business.
Mayors across the country are doing their part.  Mayor Emanuel in Chicago and Mayor Garcetti in L.A. are working to lift their cities’ wages over time to at least thirteen dollars an hour.

I’ve tried to do my part by requiring companies that get contracts with the federal government to pay their workers a fair wage of ten dollars and ten cents an hour.

And earlier this month, the president of Kentucky State University set a great example by giving himself a $90,000 pay cut, so that he could give raises to his lowest-paid employees.  His sacrifice will give more of his workers and their families a little extra money to help make ends meet.

That’s how America built the greatest middle class the world has ever known.  Not by making sure a fortunate few at the top are doing well, but by making sure that everyone who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules can get ahead.  That’s the bedrock this country is built on.  Hard work.  Responsibility.  Sacrifice.  And looking out for one another as one united American family.

Let’s keep that in mind this Labor Day, and every day.  Have a great weekend, everybody.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks Laura nt (7+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 07:03:44 AM PDT

  •  Disappointing. One of the best books (6+ / 0-)

    on the history of unions in America is this one:
    From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend

    Speak softly and carry a big can of tuna.

    by Cat Whisperer on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 07:07:17 AM PDT

  •  Yes lets get all pessimistic again because the ... (3+ / 4-)

    Yes lets get all pessimistic again because the President didn't suck Unions dicks in his weekly address.. God Hardline progressives are so fickle, vote or don't based on issues not because the people in office don't harp your personal strings constantly.

    •  There was no reason to HR this comment. (4+ / 0-)

      Coarse language is part of debate.  

      Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit http://www.globalshakedown.com.

      by khyber900 on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 07:23:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm sorry ok? I'm terrified of a world with Tea... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stude Dude, KayCeSF

        I'm sorry ok? I'm terrified of a world with Tea Party nuts in charge first it will be people of color then people like me who have mental disabilities.. If you look their play book is right out of Hitler's own political movements in the 1930s first it's hate them, then The Other, then party purity, then corporate merging of the state fallowed by racially open candidates getting elected in droves because the majority dose nothing then it is game over, you all may have lived in times like the 60s and 70s, I have not.. This we are screwed talk scares the crap out of me.

      •  Then uprate it. (3+ / 0-)

        Nobody's stopping you.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 08:16:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There's "coarse" (0+ / 0-)

        and then there's what "GunGriffin" wrote. "Sucking progressives dicks" goes far beyond "coarse".

        I'm HRing it on that account, if no other.

        "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

        by Australian2 on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 10:47:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There have been similar comments (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          meinoregon

          where the word 'conservative', 'corporate' or 'right wing' has been used instead of 'progressives' and those comments don't get HR'd (nor should they).  It's pretty clear to me what the commenter was saying....people shouldn't get upset at Obama because he/she didn't specifically mention labor or pander to organized labor in his weekly radio address.  He/she just used coarse language to make the point come across more bluntly and clearly.  

          Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit http://www.globalshakedown.com.

          by khyber900 on Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 01:22:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. This Place Tends to Overanalyze a Bit. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KayCeSF

      I miss Speaker Pelosi :^(

      by howarddream on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 08:46:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Gee, who'd have thought it? (0+ / 0-)

      On his Labor Day address, the President - the highest officeholder in the land - spends his times extolling corporations, and ignoring unions.

      On the day that's supposed to be about celebrating the accomplishments and achievements of the American worker, Obama instead chooses to exalt their bosses - who already have the other 364 1/4 days of the year of airtime for their own agenda.

      If you think that's doesn't matter, go find some DINO site.

      "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

      by Australian2 on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 10:49:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where's his pep? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude

    "In America, no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty."

    Everyone else, cake! Darn it, I clicked over here for a pep talk. He sure looks worn out. Hope he feels better soon.

    Happy Labor Day everyone!

  •  Peter King wants to know what about Syria! Now! (0+ / 0-)

    When are we gonna invade Iraq again?
    And start bombing the Russkies out of Ukraine?

  •  He opened with "unions" didn't he? (8+ / 0-)

    In a 4 min. address, this union advocate didn't expect a tutorial on the history of...

    Hope at least his suit met with approval.
    His address was fine.

    jeebus

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 07:29:26 AM PDT

  •  There is something fundamentally/profoundly wrong (9+ / 0-)

    )
    when a small segment of the population is all but allowed to  ensure that the rest are unable to flourish...
    That the President, and the majority of Americans have to practically wage an all-out war to attempt to achieve even a modicum of equity for all...
    This in the so-called wealthiest nation on earth.
    Thank You for waging the Good Fight Mr. President.

    "These 'Yet To Be' United States" --James Baldwin-- -6.75, -5.78

    by kevinbr38 on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 07:35:08 AM PDT

    •  We aren't a wealthy nation anymore (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoBlueSkies, Superpole, Joe Bacon

      We are a nation with some really freaking wealthy people in it, and that raised "the average," but overall, we are in nation in decline.

      Say, what are the Kardashians up to these days?

      And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

      by Pale Jenova on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 07:51:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Once a year (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    limpidglass

    Obama talks about raising wages for 50-90% of Americans.  The rest of the year he wrings his hands and complains that he is powerless to actually DO anything except kowtow to the whims of the 1%.  I've completely lost faith in this President.  He's good for nothing except nice fluffy-bunny speeches.

    •  sure. perhaps after our next WH resident (7+ / 0-)

      is coronated, you'll get the action you wish

      fat chance

      "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

      by Sybil Liberty on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 08:04:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He's Helped Me and My Family Out Immensely. (8+ / 0-)

      Didn't know we were in the top 1%.

      Nice to know.

      Those who admittedly bookmark online comments of various people in order to use it against them in the future are creepy fucking losers.

      by kefauver on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 08:22:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What BS (8+ / 0-)

      He's been talking about the minimum wage on a regular basis over the past year or so, not just "once a year" as he puts it.  He's implemented executive orders raising the minimum wage at federal contractors, as well as  extending non-discrimination rules for contractors to include sexual orientation.

      He's been a pretty solid advocate for working people in his second term, far from just fluff.  Add in first term accomplishments that benefitted working people such as the ACA and the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and he's been the best on labor issues that we've seen since LBJ.

      If Democrats proclaim the the Earth is round and Republicans insist it is flat, we will shortly see a column in the Washington Post claiming the the earth is really a semi-circle.

      by TexasTom on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 08:50:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  See, this kinda stuff just amazes me. People as (6+ / 0-)

      you have just demonstrated, getting online and flat out lying about the President's record, just to do it. The President talks about raising the minimum wage once a year huh? You mean this one time:

      In the 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage
      or maybe this one several times:
      On Wednesday, the president continued the push at the University of Michigan, the latest in an almost weekly focus on the subject in speeches, blog posts, radio addresses and events. In March, Mr. Obama delivered remarks on the topic at universities in Florida and Connecticut. In February, he issued an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. In January, he demanded a raise for America’s workers at a Costco in Maryland.
      Still, it could very well be this other "who cares?" one time:
      President Barack Obama continues to keep up the drumbeat for an unemployment extension and a minimum wage hike, but neither issue appears any closer to a reality in Congress.
      The president is taking his case to the airwaves and social media, using his advocacy arm, Organizing for Action, to try and pressure the GOP.

      On Saturday, Obama used his weekly address to push his $10.10 an hour minimum wage proposal, ahead of votes in the Senate when Congress returns next week.

      “Republicans have voted more than 50 times to undermine or repeal health care for millions of Americans. They should vote at least once to raise the minimum wage for millions of working families,” Obama said. “If a Republican in Congress represents you, tell him or her it’s time to give the politics a rest for a while and do something to help working Americans. It’s time for ‘ten-ten.’ It’s time to give America a raise.”

      And this is just a very tiny account of the many times the President has addressed this issue. But, like I said, "who cares?" I'm sure even if the President addressed and promoted this issue of raising the minimum wage a million times, it would not mean a thing, for, really, what matters facts when criticism is really the object? Ain't that right?

      Carry on....

  •  I don't know about that purple, stripey tie. (5+ / 0-)

    That's what we need to focus on people.

    A drowning man can not learn to swim. -- Chris Lonsdale

    by Rikon Snow on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 07:53:30 AM PDT

  •  When I hear the president give a speech (6+ / 0-)

    like this, I wish he did have those superpowers the teabaggers like to endow him with. For instance, rather than reach through your TV and yank away your guns, why not reach through the TV and give you a raise?

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 07:54:11 AM PDT

  •  Only a brief mention of unions (0+ / 0-)

    Obama is a classic neolib who believes in the tired old 90s era DNC dogma that unions are a relic of the past. They adhere to the petrified belief that today's capitalist system would never abuse workers, refusing to accept that the robber barons of commerce are still with us and still doing permanent harm to our economy and standard of living.

    As a party, we've got to push our leaders out of the past and into real evidence based economic policy.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 08:12:04 AM PDT

    •  I would suggest that pushing for a decent (6+ / 0-)

      minimum wage for labor, both union and non is precisely the objective to "evidence based" economic policy.

      "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

      by Sybil Liberty on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 09:17:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So is pushing for reform to modernizing (0+ / 0-)

        The process allowing workers to organize.

        There's a lot of magical thinking in DC about the minimum wage. Some Dem pols want to believe that talking about tweaking it every now and then is all thats necessary, that unions arent needed anymore.

        We can disagree on whether they're right, but not that they dont believe it.

        Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

        by Betty Pinson on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 01:32:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "Neolibs" Don't Push for Minimum Wage Increases. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KayCeSF, Fabienne, Stude Dude, anshmishra

      But nice attempt at a dig at Obama, Betty.

      Par for the course.

      Those who admittedly bookmark online comments of various people in order to use it against them in the future are creepy fucking losers.

      by kefauver on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 09:30:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They do talk about it during election campaigns (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bacon, Australian2

        Because they think it motivates the Dem base to turn out to vote for them. Voters are tiring of the bait and switch, though.

        Is Obama sincere about raising the national minimum wage while he's working to finish TPP negotiations? While he and Congressional Dems are allowing South Korea to violate fair trade rules that continue to drain fair wage jobs out of the US steel industry?

        Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

        by Betty Pinson on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 01:40:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Support companies who are raising workers' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anshmishra

    wages like Gap. H&M is promising to raise their workers' wages in the near future. People want cheap clothes, cheap food but there is a price to pay for that.  

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