Biden unions, Philadelphia job creation during Labor Day

Philadelphia — President Joe Biden, often described as the most pro-union president in history, is in Philadelphia on Monday for the annual tri-state Labor Day parade.

The Democratic leader talks about the importance of unions in America and how the economy is recovering from the crippling coronavirus pandemic.

“This Labor Day we celebrate jobs, good-paying jobs, jobs where you can raise a family, union jobs,” the president told the crowd on Monday.

With Labor Day, a holiday honoring workers, America adding jobs and more people starting to look for work, Biden is eager to highlight all the news in anticipation of re-election in 2024.

“As we head into Labor Day, we need to take a step back and note that America is now in one of the strongest periods of job creation in our history,” Biden said Friday from the Rose Garden. After news that U.S. employers added 187,000 jobs in August, evidence that the labor market is still resilient despite a slowdown in the Federal Reserve’s hike in interest rates.

The Labor Department’s report on Friday showed the unemployment rate rose to 3.8% from 3.5%, the highest level since February 2022, though still low by historical standards. But the rate rose for an encouraging reason: 736,000 people started looking for work last month, the most since January, and not all of them found work immediately. Only those actively looking for work are counted as unemployed.

“People are getting sidelined and coming back to their workplaces,” Biden said.

At a tri-state Labor Day event in Philadelphia, hundreds of union workers donned their local tee shirts — sheet metal workers, United Food and Commercial Workers, stagehands and others — and waited on a hot and muggy morning to see the president speak.

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Philadelphia resident Lenny Nutter, wearing a yellow Workers International Union shirt, said he came to the event to support the president, saying unions are more active than they have been because of the president’s policies.

“Unions are gaining membership, and more jobs are being given to union workers,” Nutter said.

Biden has used executive action to encourage workers to organize, has personally encouraged unionization efforts at corporations like Amazon and has authorized federal funding to help union members’ pensions. Just last week, the Biden administration proposed a new rule that would make 3.6 million American workers eligible for overtime pay, the most generous increase in decades.

Biden has traveled the country trumpeting how union workers are building bridges and improving rail tunnels as part of a $1.1 trillion public works package passed by 2021.

“Unions across labor and industries are raising standards, raising wages and strengthening benefits for all,” Biden said Friday. “You’ve heard me say it many times: Wall Street didn’t build America. The middle class built America, unions built the middle class.

The 36th annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Family Celebration is hosted by the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, featuring more than 100 local labor unions representing more than 150,000 workers.

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