Unions thought their ship came in when Barack Obama moved into the White House. They considered the new President the fruit of their efforts to put a pro-union stamp on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
That was then. This is now and now the unions join a growing list of other Americans who wonder just who they helped put into the Presidency.
Union bosses grumble that Obama’s promised changes were more illusion than reality and he has forgot what he owes to organized labor.
Obama hasn’t delivered, the complain, and it’s time to stop talking about change and start changing.
Reports The New York Times.
For eight years under George W. Bush, union officials barely set foot inside the White House. But 10 days after President Obama took office, the nation’s most powerful labor leaders mingled in the Blue Room, moments after the new president, a man they helped put there, signed a string of executive orders undoing Mr. Bush’s policies.
The mood was euphoric. “He walked in with the biggest smile,” James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said of Mr. Obama, “saying, ‘Welcome back to your White House.’ ”
Today that euphoria is giving way to a mixture of frustration and unease, as union leaders are growing concerned that the Obama White House has not delivered as much as they had expected. Some criticize him for not pushing hard enough or moving fast enough on their issues, while others blame the deep recession and Republican opposition for his failure to do more.
Mr. Obama has delayed a push for the unions’ No. 1 legislative priority, a measure to make it easier for workers to organize. He faces potential conflict with unions on trade, and on how fast to push for immigration reform. And on health care, friction between labor and the White House is suddenly spilling out into the open.
In response, Mr. Obama is renewing his courtship of the labor movement, whose members worked as foot soldiers in his campaign and spent August doggedly defending his health plan at town-hall-style meetings across the country. On Monday, the president will mark Labor Day by speaking at an A.F.L.-C.I.O. picnic in Cincinnati. During his visit, he is expected to name Ron Bloom, who heads the president’s automotive task force, to a second role in the administration as manufacturing czar. The next week, Mr. Obama will address the A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention in Pittsburgh.
“He gets an A for effort, and an incomplete for results,” the incoming president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., Richard L. Trumka.