After weeks of ratcheting up pressure on President Obama to take a bolder approach to creating jobs, leaders of the nation’s largest unions heaped praise on the larger-than-expected $447 billion stimulus package Obama unveiled Thursday night, tempering their warnings that union confidence in Obama’s economic agenda was on the edge.
AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka, who had accused the president of making “strategic mistakes“ in office and warned of waning support from union members for his reelection bid, said Obama demonstrated that “he is willing to go to the mat to create new jobs on a substantial scale.”
“He understands that we need to rebuild our economy for the 21st century and rebuild our middle class,” Trumka said in a statement released by the White House. “But doing this will require a revolution in the way Washington takes on these questions. Republicans are going to have to stop blocking bills that sustain or create millions of jobs and start offering credible solutions.”
Teamsters President Jim Hoffa, who offered a provocative Labor Day rallying cry for Obama, remained cautious and non-committal about support for Obama’s 2012 campaign when asked by ABC News. ”We’re going to have to see what happens here,” he said.
Three days later, however, Hoffa said he was “pleased” with the president.
“I’m especially pleased that President Obama wants to invest in infrastructure improvements and in jobs for our military veterans,” Hoffa said in a statement. “I’m also pleased he recognizes the need to put money in the pockets of working people.”
Those affirmations were also joined by presidents of the Service Employees International Union, the National Education Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, among others.
The White House press office sent a cascade of statements from labor groups to members of the media in an overnight blitz meant to underscore support for the president’s plan.