Obama Extends Paid Sick Leave in Labor Day Tribute to Working ‘Values’

7 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Obama and Biden Court Labor Unions With Legacy and 2016 in Play.

Brady, who successfully challenged his 4-game DeflateGate suspension, was referenced multiple times during the annual Labor Day union rally and breakfast at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. “It’s always good to be back in Boston, especially when the weather’s like this.WASHINGTON (AP) — Showing solidarity with workers on Labor Day, President Barack Obama will sign an executive order Monday requiring paid sick leave for employees of federal contractors, including 300,000 who currently receive none. The Labor Department said any costs would be offset by savings that contractors would see as a result of lower attrition rates and increased worker loyalty, but produced nothing to back that up. Build labor, we build the middle class.” The labor courtship, an annual ritual among Democrats, comes 14 months ahead of the next U.S. presidential election, as contenders for the party’s nomination campaign on pledges to address income inequality.

Brady is free,” Obama said with a smile. “It’s like a ground ball slipping through someone’s legs,” Obama said, warranting some groans. “You guys have won a couple since then so I can make that joke. On his flight to Boston, Obama was joined by labor union presidents including Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and Arturo Rodriguez of the United Farm Workers of America. The order will allow employees to use the leave to care for sick relatives as well, and will affect contracts starting in 2017 — just as Obama leaves office.

Biden, 72, who has twice before run for president, said last week that he is assessing “whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run” following his son Beau’s death in May from brain cancer. The Obama administration has been working on the executive order for months, and chose Labor Day to announce it as Obama works to enact what policies he can before his presidency ends despite resistance in Congress to laws he’s proposed to improve workplace conditions. That push has reverberated in the 2016 campaign, where Democratic candidates are seeking to draw a distinction with Republicans on who’s most supportive of the middle class. ‘‘There are certain Republicans that said we can’t afford to do this,’’ said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. He lamented how paid leave is seen as a partisan issue in the U.S. despite broad support in Europe. ‘‘The Republican Party is out of step with similar conservative governments around the world,’’ he said. Hillary Clinton has stops in Iowa and in Illinois, while Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee are participating in events in New Hampshire.

In his speech to the Greater Boston Labor Council’s breakfast, Obama was also to renew his call for Congress to expand the requirement beyond contract workers to all but the smallest U.S. businesses, an idea that has gained little traction on Capitol Hill. At the same time, labor union members’ approval of Obama stands 1 percentage point above its all-time low -– and the administration may find it challenging to boost that rating at a time it is redoubling efforts to seal a trade deal with Pacific Rim nations. Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering entering the Democratic presidential primary, was to echo the labor rights theme in a march with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Monday at a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh.

Unable to push much of his agenda through a Republican-controlled Congress, Obama has in recent years used executive orders with frequency to apply policies to federal contractors that he lacks the authority to enact nationwide. Earlier executive orders have barred federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, raised the minimum wage for contractors and expanded the number of contract workers eligible for overtime. Although labor groups have hailed those moves, they remain deeply skeptical of Obama’s push to secure sweeping new trade deals with the Asia-Pacific region and with Europe. The White House said it couldn’t estimate how many federal contractors don’t offer paid leave now, citing a maze of state and local laws that make crunching the numbers difficult.

Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice, a Washington-based group aligned with labor, said that while unions have been clear that stances on trade may affect support for candidates, “labor will be more critical of candidates based on a host of important issues that address the growing inequality and help to get our economy working for everyone.” Harley Shaiken, a professor of labor relations at the University of California, Berkeley, said that between the president and unions, “It has been a fraught relationship over the past six or seven years,” while “in the past year or so, Obama has come out swinging in labor’s favor.” Obama delighted the labor community this year when he expanded overtime pay eligibility for millions of workers by raising the pay threshold for workers who must be paid more for working more than 40 hours a week. Cecilia Muniz, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, said the administration has an obligation to get the most out of every federal tax dollar. In contrast, unions have pushed back against Obama’s plan to make a trade agreement with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries a legacy of his presidency, saying the agreement would hurt U.S. workers by sending jobs overseas.

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