President Obama talks jobs at Milwaukee LaborFest

Thumbnail for President Obama in Milwaukee 9-1-14
Thumbnail for President Obama in Milwaukee 9-1-14

MILWAUKEE – President Barack Obama spoke at Labor Fest in Milwaukee this Labor Day, where he spoke of jobs, the economy, and equal opportunity.

The message of President Obama’s half-hour address to hundreds of labor supporters: America is on the move.

“I put my money on American workers and the belief that our economy grows best when everybody has a shot,” the president said.

“This country gave me a chance, it gave Michelle a chance. I believe in the American dream because I have lived it. And I ran for this office to restore it so that no matter what you look like or where you came from, no matter how you started you could make it in America if you tried,” said Obama.

The president spoke of job growth in the past six months nationwide. Obama also encouraged workers to fight for equal pay for women, as well as a higher minimum wage. Those messages resonated with union members like Wendy Fonseca.

“Don’t boo, vote. Get out and do things. We have to come together or otherwise we won’t see change,” said Fonseca, a CWA union member from Milwaukee.

But not everyone at the event agreed with the President’s message.

“I’m disappointed in his local policies or nationwide policies. He needs to approve the Keystone Pipeline. We need jobs, and those are union jobs and non-union jobs,” said Chris Bauman, a non-union healthcare worker from the Milwaukee area.

Before the president took the stage Monday afternoon, he met privately with Democratic Candidate for Governor Mary Burke. Burke has said she supports organized labor. However, she has stopped short of saying she would repeal Act 10, the controversial law which did away with most collective bargaining rights for public employee unions.

The Burke campaign said the president’s visit was not “a campaign event” so “her participation in the public portion of events would not be appropriate.”

The Republican Party of Wisconsin responded critically to Obama’s visit with Burke. In a statement, it said: “Burke is going to great lengths to distance herself from Obama, but the truth is they share the same failed policies that have produced disastrous results: staggering job loss, fiscal irresponsibility, and crushing tax hikes on middle class families.”

Republican Governor Scott Walker met the president as Air Force One landed in Milwaukee. Walker said though he disagrees with President Obama politically, he is still the president, and deserved to be welcomed to the state properly.

One thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on: Jobs will be the big issue heading into election season this fall.