Thomas Perez on the Uneven Economic Recovery, Income Inequality, and the Need for Strong Labor Unions

ACADEME BLOG

This is a carefully prepared, persuasive, and at times eloquent speech.

It would have been nice if such speeches had been given more consistently at the beginning of the Obama presidency, instead of at the tail end of it, and if they had reflected a broader and louder political focus on protecting and promoting labor rights.

The president’s statement on the passage of “right to work” in Wisconsin, which is cited in this speech, follows a general silence–at least off the campaign trail–on the convulsive labor issues in states across the Midwest, issues that were brought to a head with the Great Recession and the Far Right’s expedient conflation of state budget crises and the supposed “excesses” of public-employee unions.

In the next presidential election cycle, labor unions need to demand more than rhetoric from ostensibly pro-labor candidates. We need to demand some identification of specific policy proposals that will protect and promote…

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