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Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Tonight President Obama sent a clear message to the world that he will stand and fight for working America’s values and priorities. And with the foundation he laid, working families will fight by his side to build an economy that works for all.

President Obama rightly put rising wages and good jobs as his top priority, and we fully support him. We applaud the President for expressing support for raising the minimum wage and tying it to the cost of living, ensuring the right to vote and promoting early childhood education. President Obama – and the Congress – need to end the destructive obstructionism and wrong-headed austerity that weaken our economic recovery. As the President said tonight, creating good jobs requires a deep commitment to building our economy for the next generation, including investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and high-quality education and public services.

We need an immediate solution to growth-killing sequestration cuts and a balanced approach to deficit reduction, including steps such as closing tax loopholes, including the carried interest loophole and tax subsidies for offshoring jobs. And together, we must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefit cuts.

We share the President’s urgent belief in the importance of a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans who call this country home, and we are fully committed to making that a reality. Reform of our immigration laws must reflect America’s values as a democratic society, and not create a second class of workers, whether through a temporary worker program or by restricting the ability of the undocumented to someday attain citizenship. Strong protections for worker standards and worker rights are essential to the economic future of all working people.

Today’s economic challenges result directly from decades of inadequate job growth, wage stagnation and growing inequality. If there is one tool workers need to succeed, it is the right to organize and bargain collectively. Throughout his public service, the President has been a proud and strong voice for the rights of workers and we call on him to use his voice more consistently and more powerfully going forward. Working people need his leadership more than ever. More important, our country needs to empower workers if we hope to achieve real, sustainable, broadly shared economic growth.

In the end, the President’s words are meaningless if they do not produce action – and it is our responsibility to fight for the President’s vision and the policies outlined tonight. We ask all our country’s elected leaders to join with President Obama in confronting the most pressing issues of our time with courage, humanity, and unity.

Contact: Josh Goldstein (202) 637-5018

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