President Obama will address the nation tomorrow evening for his sixth State of the Union Address. With the income gap and growing economic inequality in America spiraling out of control, the President will almost certainly address the War on Poverty and how he plans to move forward to reverse these trends.
As the workers who keep our country running, and the people who experience these issues first-hand every day, we asked you–our members–what you hope to see addressed during tomorrow night’s speech. You weighed in, and agreed on much of the same topics. Here’s what UFCW members are saying:
We Need a Higher Minimum Wage
Many of you agreed that one key factor to ending the war on poverty is to enact a higher minimum wage. In 2014, we are happy to see that a growing number of states have passed legislation that will increase the minimum wage–but it’s also time to see it increase on the federal level, so that more people can earn the living wage they deserve. Members like John Durso, suggest that “every worker has the right to $15/ hour and a union.” We couldn’t agree more!
Putting a Stop to Right-To-Work Laws is a Must
UFCW members know that “Right-to-Work” laws mean just the opposite of what their name implies. Many of you said you’d like to see President Obama do something about putting a stop to such legislation. UFCW Member Dennis Campbell shared why it’s so important: “I’m a laborer here in Little Rock. We folded and had to consolidate with Oklahoma. This is the end result of being right to work state. All our big projects have been on hold since Obama got elected. Now I’m one of the long term unemployed hoping they extend UI.” We know that President Obama is an ally to working people, but we cannot allow legislation that essentially takes away the power of labor unions, and therefore the voice of the working people, to become law. UFCW member Daniel Risner agreed, saying that “President Obama needs to push for the removal of the right to work!!”
Creating More Full-Time Jobs and Extending Unemployment Insurance Should be a Priority
Many of you voiced how job creation needs to be at the top of President Obama’s list–and hope to see more full-time positions in a time where employers are increasingly cutting hours, forcing workers to find second, and even third jobs to make ends meet. Like Dennis mentioned, many people who are struggling to find jobs in this difficult economy were left hanging when Congress failed to extend Unemployment Insurance for millions of Americans. For those still trying to get hired, Unemployment Insurance was life raft, keeping food on the table while the job searched continued. Below are some of the things members are saying about jobs and UI:
Pattie Santore-Svendsen: I went back to school, graduated GPA 3.88 and I still can not find a job. Medical billing/coding employers want experience. I need the EUI to live on LI, NY. Pass the extension !!!!
Jim Cronover: Not very many people that are drawing unemployment put money in off shore banks. Every dime they get goes right back into our economy.
Judy Daniels: Unemployment Insurance is paid by all of us when employed to support the common good when unemployment strikes any of us. Unemployment Benefits support our economy, especially locally, when there is no income from wages.
Fostering Better Relationships with Unions Will Help The Middle Class
Like we mentioned before, President Obama has been an ally to labor unions during his tenure, but its been a while since we really felt like any progress has been made from as a result of this partnership. Members like you are saying that you’d like to see the President make more effort to help labor unions, and do more to combat false views about them. UFCW member Kevin Boston says that, “in 2008, [President Obama] wasn’t afraid to say the word “UNION”.. He could get back to that.” Member Ben Hulsey said he wishes to see “less hostile relations directed at labor” and that doing more to ensure there is “no intimidation of workers trying to organize would be nice“.
What else is going on in America that you’d like to see the President address tomorrow, in regards to working people? We still want to hear more from you–we’ll tweet your answers at President Obama before the SOTU. Be sure to tune in at 9pm tomorrow evening for his speech–we’ll be live-tweeting if you want to join in!