Weekly Address: President Obama – Building Upon the Legacy of Labor Day

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, President Obama commemorated Labor Day by highlighting the economic progress we’ve made over the course of his administration. Over the past seven and a half years, we’ve rescued our economy from another depression, cut our unemployment rate in half, and unleashed the longest string total job growth on record. The President said that although the country has made significant progress, there’s still work to do in the years to come. He emphasized that despite the boisterous political season, we must not lose sight of the policies that will actually help working families get ahead. President Obama said if we are going to restore the sense that hard work is rewarded with a fair shot to get ahead, we must build on the legacy of those who came before us – that means exercising our right to speak up in the workplace, to join a union, and to vote.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Building Upon the Legacy of Labor Day

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address, The White House, September 3, 2016

Hi everybody. Before you fire up the barbecue for the long weekend, I want to talk a little bit about the reason we get to celebrate Labor Day – and that’s the labor movement that helped build this country and our middle class.

For generations, every time the economy changed, hardworking Americans marched and organized and joined unions to demand not simply a bigger paycheck for themselves, but better conditions and more security for the folks working next to them, too. Their efforts are why we can enjoy things like the 40-hour workweek, overtime pay, and a minimum wage. Their efforts are why we can depend on health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and retirement plans.

All of that progress is stamped with the union label. All of that progress was fueled with a simple belief: that our economy works better when it works for everybody.

That’s the spirit that’s made the progress of these past seven and a half years possible. We’ve rescued our economy from another depression, cut our unemployment rate in half, and unleashed the longest string total job growth on record. And we’ve focused on making sure that the gains of a growing economy don’t just flow to a few at the top, but to everybody.

It’s why we took action to help millions of workers finally collect the overtime pay they’ve earned. It’s why I issued a call to raise the minimum wage, and when Congress ignored that call, 18 states and the District of Columbia, plus another 51 cities and counties went ahead and gave their workers a raise. It’s why the very first bill I signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; why we gave paid sick days to federal contractors; why we’ve fought for worker safety and the right to organize.

And we’ve made good progress. For a few years after the recession, the top one percent did capture almost all income gains. But that share has been cut by almost half. Last year, income for everybody else grew at the fastest pace since the 1990s. And another 20 million Americans know the financial security of health insurance.

I’ll be the first to say we’ve got more work to do in the years ahead. Now, I know we’re in the heat of a more raucous political season than usual. But we can’t get so distracted by the latest bluster that we lose sight of the policies that will actually help working families get ahead. Because the truth is, that’s what’s caused some of the frustration that’s roiling our politics right now – too many working folks still feel left behind by an economy that’s constantly changing.

So as a country, we’ve got some choices to make. Do we want to be a country where the typical woman working full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar a man makes – or one where they earn equal pay for equal work? Do we want a future where inequality rises as union membership keeps falling – or one where wages are rising for everybody and workers have a say in their prospects? Are we a people who just talk about family values while remaining the only developed nation that doesn’t offer its workers paid maternity leave – or are we a people who actually value families, and make paid family leave an economic priority for working parents?

These are the kinds of choices in front of us. And if we’re going to restore the sense that hard work is rewarded with a fair shot to get ahead, we’re going to have to follow the lead of all those who came before us. That means standing up not just for ourselves, but for the father clocking into the plant, the sales clerk working long and unpredictable hours, or the mother riding the bus to work across town, even on Labor Day – folks who work as hard as we do. And it means exercising our rights to speak up in the workplace, to join a union, and above all, to vote.

That’s the legacy we celebrate on Labor Day. And I’m confident that that’s the legacy that we’ll build upon in the years ahead.

Thanks everybody. Happy Labor Day. Enjoy the long weekend

Bolding added.

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  9 comments for “Weekly Address: President Obama – Building Upon the Legacy of Labor Day

  1. JanF
    September 3, 2016 at 8:09 am

    President Obama:

    For generations, every time the economy changed, hardworking Americans marched and organized and joined unions to demand not simply a bigger paycheck for themselves, but better conditions and more security for the folks working next to them, too. Their efforts are why we can enjoy things like the 40-hour workweek, overtime pay, and a minimum wage. Their efforts are why we can depend on health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and retirement plans.

    All of that progress is stamped with the union label. All of that progress was fueled with a simple belief: that our economy works better when it works for everybody.

  2. JanF
    September 3, 2016 at 8:23 am

    The National Park Service turned 100 years old last week. The president met with some of the employees who work at the White House, an NPS site:

    The National Park Service has been taking care of the White House grounds since the 1930s — all 18 acres of it, and many of these service members have been here for over 35 years.

  3. JanF
    September 3, 2016 at 9:15 am

    On Wednesday, President Obama spoke in Lake Tahoe honoring the environmental legacy of retiring Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).

    Transcript: Remarks by the President at the 20th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit

    Harry has protected fish and wildlife across the state. He helped to end a century-old water war. He created Nevada’s first and only national park. Right after I took office, the very first act Harry’s Senate passed was one of the most important conservation efforts in a generation. We protected more than 2 million acres of wilderness and thousands of miles of trails and rivers. That was because of Harry Reid. (Applause.) Last summer, thanks to Harry Reid’s leadership, we protected more than 700,000 acres of mountains and valleys right here in Nevada, establishing the Basin and Range National Monument.

    Two decades ago, the senator from Searchlight trained a national spotlight right here, on Lake Tahoe.

  4. JanF
    September 3, 2016 at 9:19 am

    On Thursday, the president flew to Hawaii where he addressed the 2016 Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders.

    Transcript: Remarks by the President to Leaders from the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress

    The United States is proud to host the IUCN Congress for the first time. I just came here from another beautiful place — Lake Tahoe, Nevada. And in my address there I talked about climate change and conservation, and how those two things are inextricably linked. Few people understand, I think, the stakes better than our Pacific Island leaders, because they’re seeing already the impact. Rising temperatures and sea levels pose an existential threat to your countries. And while some members of the U.S. Congress still seem to be debating whether climate change is real or not, many of you are already planning for new places for your people to live. Crops are withering in the Marshall Islands. Kiribati bought land in another country because theirs may someday be submerged. High seas forced villagers from their homes in Fiji.

  5. JanF
    September 3, 2016 at 9:34 am

    From the White House: Nainoa Thompson, Navigator, posted on medium about President Obama’s expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Sanctuary. The post The Mālama of Our Blue Planet:

    Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, I’ve spent the better part of my life dedicated to the ocean that surrounds me. This is why President Obama’s recent expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Sanctuary off the coast of northern Hawaii, means so much to me.

    I have voyaged thousands of miles of open ocean by canoe, guided by the sun, stars and swells, practicing the art and science of Polynesian wayfinding and navigation. This tradition and legacy of wayfinding goes back centuries in my culture. We have worked hard to bring it back from the point of extinction, and perpetuate it as a means for understanding our environment, our history, our culture, our future and our world.

    On long voyages, surrounded by the vast blue ocean, we come face to face with the Hawaiian concept of “mālama ” — or “caretaking.” My ancestors learned long ago that if they took care of their canoe and each other, they would arrive safely at their destination. On islands, as on the canoe, we care for each other and our resources, and work together to protect that which is sacred and fragile — our Island Earth.

    As I sail around the world, I’ve gotten a glimpse of what can happen to special places if they are not protected. Initiatives like the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument help us perpetuate and build upon more than a hundred years of protection efforts by thousands of people in our community and around the globe. Thanks to their work to advocate for protection of this area’s cultural and ecological resources and thanks to President Obama, Papahānaumokuākea will become the largest marine protected area on earth. This is a step in the right direction at this crucial time for Island Earth.

    Ours is a blue planet, and the health of our Island Earth and her people is dependent on the health of the ocean. If climate change and protection of biodiversity and wildlife are part of the biggest challenge of the 21st century, then ocean protection is the strongest solution. The expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Sanctuary will help keep our waters safe — improving ocean resilience, helping the region’s distinct physical and biological resources adapt, and creating a natural laboratory that will allow scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change on these fragile ecosystems.

    Join me in celebrating the work of those who stand for and work to mālama our precious honua, who are caring for our Island Earth. And I’ll hope you’ll take the time to watch the President’s remarks on conservation from the Midway Atoll.


    (President Obama at Midway Atoll)

    Aloha Pumehana.

  6. JanF
    September 3, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    @WhiteHouse: It’s official: The U.S. and China have entered into the #ParisAgreement: http://go.wh.gov/toU7iM https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/772089821686890496/photo/1
    Shared via TweetCaster

  7. JanF
    September 5, 2016 at 6:29 am

    From the G20 Summit in Hangzhou China, President Obama held a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May:

    Transcript: Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister May of the United Kingdom After Bilateral Meeting at the G20 Summit

    President Obama:

    [Our conversation] began with the basic premise that even as the UK pursues an orderly exit from the EU, together, we reaffirm the very special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. It will not simply endure, but it will continue to grow stronger with time. The vibrant economic partnership between our countries will continue as the UK gains further clarity on its new relationship with the EU. Our two countries will be discussing ways in which we continue to sustain and strengthen our trade and investment ties. Here at the G20, we will continue to pursue an agenda of inclusive and sustainable growth.

    When it comes to security issues, under Prime Minister May, the UK has reaffirmed its strong commitment to the transatlantic architecture. We are NATO Allies. We see the world in the same way. We will continue to oppose Russian aggression in Ukraine. We will continue to counter cyber threats. We will continue to work diligently to root out terrorist networks, and we’ll work to destroy ISIL.

    Note: Prime Minister May calls the terrorists “Daesh” which I wish we would do also. They deserve no respect and including “Islamic” in any part of their name feeds into the panic that every Muslim is our enemy.

    Prime Minister May on Brexit:

    PRIME MINISTER MAY: On the question you asked me about Brexit — yes, Brexit does indeed mean Brexit. On the 23rd of June, the people in the UK voted for the UK to leave the European Union. The government respects that decision. We respect the wishes of the people, and we will put that into practice. So there will be no second referendum, no attempt to turn the clock back, no attempt to try and get out of this. The UK will be leaving the European Union.

  8. JanF
    September 5, 2016 at 6:40 am

    In the News: Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Tim Kaine will speak on Labor Day in Cleveland at 2pm Eastern. The event will be carried live on CSPAN:

  9. JanF
    September 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    President Obama speaking to the Laotian people on Tuesday:

    Transcript: Remarks of President Obama to the People of Laos

    I realize that having a U.S. president in Laos would have once been unimaginable. Six decades ago, this country fell into civil war. And as the fighting raged next door in Vietnam, your neighbors and foreign powers, including the United States, intervened here. As a result of that conflict and its aftermath, many people fled or were driven from their homes. At the time, the U.S. government did not acknowledge America’s role. It was a secret war, and for years, the American people did not know. Even now, many Americans are not fully aware of this chapter in our history, and it’s important that we remember today.

    Over nine years — from 1964 to 1973 — the United States dropped more than two million tons of bombs here in Laos — more than we dropped on Germany and Japan combined during all of World War II. It made Laos, per person, the most heavily bombed country in history. As one Laotian said, the “bombs fell like rain.” Villages and entire valleys were obliterated. The ancient Plain of Jars was devastated. Countless civilians were killed. And that conflict was another reminder that, whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children. Today, I stand with you in acknowledging the suffering and sacrifices on all sides of that conflict.

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