President Biden gave his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night. Here is how advocates for working families across the country responded.
In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Biden delivered a bold blueprint for an economy that, at long last, puts working people first. Instead of catering to the wealthy and well-connected, the President declared that workers are America’s backbone and good union jobs are the keystone of an economy that works for all.
In his first two years in office, President Biden made historic investments in infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing and technology that will result in transformational economic opportunities not seen in generations. To this President, “Made in America” isn’t a slogan; it’s a clarion call for us to rebuild American manufacturing and bring supply chains home.
The President made clear that his focus is reshaping the economy so that working people have a fair shot of getting ahead through a good union job. He understands that workers’ ability to organize is inextricably tied to a future in which we rise together. That’s why he called for the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, so that all workers have the freedom to stand together in a union to negotiate for good pay, affordable health care and safe working conditions. And we applaud his call to ensure billionaires will no longer get a free pass to exploit loopholes that allow them to get out of paying their fair share, siphoning funds from schools, public safety and other vital social services.
The administration’s accomplishments in the last two years are just the beginning. As President Biden said tonight, it’s time to finish the job. The labor movement is organized, we are mobilized, and we are ready to ensure all workers—no matter who we are or where we’re from—have the future we and our families deserve.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders:
When President Biden first took office, he pledged to be ‘the most pro-union president in history.’ He is living up to his promise. The American Rescue Plan brought the economy back from the brink following the shockwaves of the pandemic. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 1969. The historic bipartisan infrastructure law is adding good-paying union jobs to the economy, while the Inflation Reduction Act is actively lowering costs for working people. Biden has also fostered the most labor friendly environment we’ve seen at the federal level in decades. As workers join together to form unions in record numbers, the NLRB is holding employers accountable and defending workers’ rights.
Pres. Biden clearly understands that a strong economy depends on a strong labor movement. But the job isn’t done. We still need to overhaul labor law in this country so workers who want to form a union can finally do so. That means passing the PRO Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. To keep our economy moving in the right direction, Congress must pursue a clean vote to raise the debt ceiling and continue to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. Finally, the federal government must continue to make critical investments in the public services our communities depend on like child care and health care.
The path ahead in a divided Congress will be tough, but to keep the state of our union strong we must press ahead and fight for common sense policies that will empower working families and finally level the playing field.
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President John Costa:
In the past two years, President Biden has created more jobs than any other president in American history. This is after entering office with the early support of the ATU when our economy was in crisis. President Biden not only led us through a pandemic, but he oversaw a historic recovery that stands to benefit workers and families for years to come.
Under President Biden, our economy has created more than twelve million jobs and ushered in a 54-year low unemployment rate, with near record lows for Black and Hispanic workers. These jobs to a community, an individual, and a family have been life-changing.
Along with record-breaking job creation, policies implemented by the Biden Administration intended to help workers have left them more economically secure than before the pandemic. Child poverty was at a historic low in 2021, and families now have the breathing room they need to advance their lives.
In his State of the Union, President Biden also outlined the historic investment in public transit and our nation’s infrastructure his administration has made under the Bipartisan Infrastructure law, which the ATU helped get passed. In fact, his economic plan includes the most significant upgrade to our nation’s infrastructure in generations. Equally important, President Biden is also ensuring that everything from zero-emission buses to bridges to rail cars are made here in America.
We join the president in calling for Congress to immediately pass the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to ensure every worker has the choice to organize, join a union, and collectively bargain for a fair living wage to provide for their families.
The Biden Administration has also put more money in our pockets by lowering health care costs, including prescription drug prices. This is just one of the ways President Biden is sticking up for everyday Americans, including making large corporations and billionaires finally pay their fair share in taxes.
The American people want stability and leadership, and that’s what the Biden Administration has delivered over the past two years. We must keep moving forward and continue providing meaningful change for working people and their families. Thank you to the Biden Administration for keeping your promises to the American people and putting workers’ rights in the national spotlight. Now is the time, as President Biden said, to “finish the job.”
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten:
President Biden may have been speaking from the U.S. Capitol tonight, but he could have been sitting at any of our kitchen tables, because he spoke from the heart, directly to the American people, particularly to those left behind or who feel invisible. He made that his North Star: making people’s lives better, in an economy that works for all, in communities that are safe for everyone and in a world where sustainable democracies can thrive over autocracies and war. Most of all, Biden challenged us to hope and dream, and to stay united.
His record, while still unfinished, is remarkable, and it gives us a launching pad for a more perfect union: massive job growth, the highest in a two-year period; record-low unemployment; reimagining our manufacturing base, from electric buses to bringing back chip manufacturing; rebuilding roads, bridges and tunnels that commuters rely on; game-changing student loan forgiveness, plus critical education assistance and school safety measures that helped our students and teachers get their mojo back; and driving down drug costs and gas prices, even when it meant standing up to big pharma and big oil. This work has made a clear difference in the lives of families, regardless of where they live and who they voted for. And whether he is middle-class Joe or working-class Joe, the president stayed true to the basic value that all Americans—not just the wealthy and powerful—should feel and benefit from our country’s success.
But there is much more to do, and we appreciate that the president spoke with optimism, rooting for the American people, as he laid out a very ambitious agenda that started with safety and education, like paid family leave, child care and raises for the teachers who educate our kids. It’s clear that this president recognizes the promise and potential of public schooling—including using career and technical education and building pathways to career and college so more students can access opportunities at an early age—and the urgent need to address mental health, both in our schools and in our healthcare workforce, proposing important workplace and school-based programs to tackle stress and trauma, as well as stronger protections to rein in tech companies and address our kids’ privacy, health and safety online. He voiced a strong commitment to keeping our families and communities safe from violence, building on the progress already made on gun safety, and going one step further by banning assault weapons, while also making important advances in effective, accountable policing, including reissuing the call for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. And, of course, he spoke with his signature Joe Biden vision, vowing to make good on his commitment to veterans, to continue the cancer moonshot and to cure the opioid epidemic.
And while the president was optimistic and hopeful, he was clear that there is no place for holding hostage Social Security, Medicare or the full faith and credit of the United States. And in a brilliant master class, he got everyone in the hall to agree not to make those cuts. Further, he vowed to continue to stand up for democracy and basic human rights, both at home and abroad. He reminded us that America is a story of progress and resilience, that having a strong democracy makes this possible, and that together we can deliver on a families-first agenda that makes a tangible difference in people’s lives. In true Joe Biden form, he celebrated the efforts of working people and the power of a union, urging Congress to protect collective bargaining and pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.
That was our president’s message tonight, and we at the AFT are grateful that he is our leader and wants to finish the job.
In the two years since President Joe Biden took office, his administration has spearheaded some of the most positive developments for working people since the New Deal. From the pension relief of the American Rescue Plan, to the strengthening of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, to the massive infrastructure investments of the 2021 infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden Administration has been committed to creating jobs and raising standards for working Americans. Last night’s State of the Union address showed that he has no plans to stop.
During the speech, President Biden put unions and American workers front and center. “For too long, workers have been getting stiffed,” he said. “Not anymore. We’re beginning to restore the dignity of work.”
“I am so sick and tried of companies breaking the law by preventing workers from organizing,” President Biden continued, urging Congress to “pass the PRO Act, because all workers have a right to form a union.”
“And let’s guarantee all workers a living wage. Let’s also make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days, paid family and medical leave, and affordable childcare, that will enable millions more people to go to work,” President Biden stressed. “When we do all of these things, we increase productivity. We increase economic growth.”
President Biden also highlighted the importance for the government to ‘Buy American.’ “Buy American has been the law of the land since 1933. But for too long, past administrations have found ways to get around it. Not anymore,” he said. “Tonight, I’m also announcing new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America.”
Communications Workers of America (CWA):
In his second State of the Union address, President Biden doubled down on his commitment to push for an economic framework that is centered around meeting the needs of working families. In a political climate starved of leaders who will stand up to the wealthy and well-connected, President Biden’s message stood out loud and clear—workers come first. Despite the usual partisan gridlock, the Biden Administration has been able to achieve groundbreaking legislative victories in the last two years that will create opportunities with lasting impacts for generations of workers including CWA members. Under his leadership, we have moved from campaign promises and rhetoric to actual investments in critical infrastructure such as strengthening our supply chains by increasing U.S manufacturing and bringing high-speed internet connections to communities across the country while creating good jobs in the industry. CWA commends President Biden for his successful efforts to cap the cost of insulin for seniors on Medicare and we join him in calling on Congress to take action to expand Medicare access and bring down prescription drug costs for all Americans who need it.
President Biden made it clear that he understands a job should be more than a paycheck. It should be a source of pride and dignity. Which is why he threw his full support behind the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, so that all workers have a free and fair choice to organize or join a union, and the right to bargain collectively with their employer, without fear of intimidation, coercion, threats, and anti-union propaganda. We stand with the President in his efforts to fix our unfair tax system and ensure billionaires pay their fair share as well as his commitment to block any attempt to cut retirement security programs such as Social Security and Medicare benefits. CWA members will continue to mobilize and help advance the President’s agenda on creating jobs through investment in our country’s infrastructure and empowering workers.
Electrical Workers (IBEW) International President Kenneth Cooper:
In his State of the Union address last night, President Biden reminded Americans that his administration’s priority remains working people and building shared prosperity from the bottom up.
The last two years have seen historic, bipartisan action to invest in infrastructure, domestic manufacturing and modernizing our energy economy, resulting in good, union jobs that are rebuilding middle-class communities across the United States.
President Biden also reiterated his commitment to ensuring that every worker enjoys the right to organize and bargain collectively for better pay, benefits and fairness on the job. Under his watch, he has restored the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board to their proper roles as protectors of workers’ rights. He also doubled down on his call for the passage of the PRO Act, so all workers can join a union.
As the president said, members of the IBEW are proud to be part of rebuilding America’s manufacturing economy and a new low-carbon energy infrastructure—from installing a national network of EV charging stations to building new semiconductor plants that are reviving the rust belt.
And we look forward to continuing to work with President Biden and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in creating a pro-worker economy that works for all.
Fire Fighters (IAFF) General President Edward Kelly:
There is no stronger advocate for fire fighters and emergency medical professionals than President Biden, whose administration has enabled the legislative progress our profession has needed for generations. He understands the dangers of our job—including the urgent need to fight cancer. That's why last night's State of the Union reiterated the importance of the Cancer Moonshot—an initiative we should all get behind—to bring America's research system into the 21st century and provide support for those facing cancer. Cancer has impacted nearly every family, especially our own. As President Biden said last night, let's "finish the job" and end cancer as we know it.
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART):
On the campaign trail and during his first State of the Union speech last year, President Biden made big promises: substantial infrastructure investment for the first time in decades, the return of manufacturing to America, and an economy that works from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down. Now, two years after the president’s inauguration, we can say that the Biden administration is delivering on those promises.
President Biden signed legislation like the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act into law: saving hundreds of thousands of union pensions, providing the most significant investments into our country’s infrastructure and semiconductor production in generations, and making the largest American investment in clean energy ever. These investments have already put thousands of SMART sheet metal members to work, and they will drastically improve the health and working conditions of our Transportation Division members across sectors.
Since President Biden took office, more than 200 companies have announced private investment in manufacturing, utilities and energy to the tune of $700 billion, across all 50 states. Our members are already working these jobs, from solar panel production facilities in New York to data centers in Arizona.
And after two years of President Biden’s agenda, the American economy has created more than 12 million jobs, with an unemployment rate of 3.4%, a 54-year low.
But, as the president made clear in this year’s State of the Union, there is more work to do. We look forward to working with Congress and this administration to end the anti-worker corporate scheme that is Precision Scheduled Railroading. And we call on Congress to pass a billionaire minimum tax, which will finally see the one percent pay their fair share and ease the damaging impact of inflation for working families; expand the Child Tax Credit, which will lift more children and families out of poverty; extend the Inflation Reduction Act’s price cap on insulin to all Americans; and pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which will make it easier for workers to form a union.
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) President Ray Curry:
President Biden promised to be the most pro-union President in our country’s history. Two years into his first term, he has made good on his promise time and time again.
Under his leadership, Congress passed landmark laws like the Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Altogether they will create good paying jobs throughout the country, rebuild aged and crumbling infrastructure, and put our country in a position to win the jobs of the future.
Investments made by the President in American workers and manufacturers will strengthen our economy while improving our national security. Our country’s stronger when we are less dependent on foreign nations for vital products and materials.
President Biden also fought for passage of the PACT Act which significantly expanded benefits and services for veterans exposed to toxins. He put the interests of working people over Big Pharma by reigning in skyrocketing prescription drug prices and made our tax code fairer by cracking down on wealthy tax cheats and having the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share. President Biden nominated, and the Senate confirmed, dozens of judges from diverse backgrounds who understand the struggles of working people. Under his leadership, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court. His groundbreaking student debt relief plan, if allowed to go forward by the courts, would significantly improve the quality of life and overall financial well-being for sixteen million Americans, including tens of thousands of UAW members and their families.
Remarkably, despite the worst pandemic in a hundred years, record high inflation throughout the globe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and many other historic challenges, President Biden has managed to create millions of new jobs. Unemployment is now at the lowest rate since 1969 and gas prices are down sharply.
Yet as the President acknowledged, more work needs to be done. Congress should heed his call by passing the bipartisan Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The PRO Act removes barriers that make it very difficult for workers to form a union and collectively bargain for better wages, improve working conditions, greater retirement security, and other benefits. Congress must also work with the President to ensure that future jobs and investments in electric vehicles, batteries and semiconductors are good middle-class union jobs. Finally, we urge the Senate to expeditiously confirm more judges who support workers’ rights, defend civil rights, and protect access to health care.
We firmly agree with President Biden that the debt ceiling needs to be increased without conditions like it was three times under President Trump. We urge the House Majority to not play Russian roulette with our future and economy. Congress must not make it harder for working people to afford lifesaving medicine and retire with dignity. The most vulnerable in our society should not be made to suffer because of misplaced priorities.
UAW stands ready to work with the Administration and Congress to build on the record of the last two years to ensure a brighter future for all.
The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers applauds President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address and the clear message of support for organized labor the speech carried.
Our union is proud to count Saria Gwin-Maye, an ironworker from Local Union 44 in Cincinnati, as a 34-year member. Saria was the first building trades unionist to attend a State of the Union in the presidential family section. We are honored by the president’s recognition of Saria and our union in his speech.
Last year, Biden became the first president since FDR to call for a stronger, larger labor movement.
This year, he gave examples of how his administration is making that a reality. His recognition of the Iron Workers Union came as he spoke about the Brent Spence Bridge, a project that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). BIL projects are already employing thousands of tradespeople around the U.S. Our union is working with the administration and state governments to ensure it creates many more union jobs.
The president highlighted other legislative accomplishments. The CHIPS and Science Act, a bipartisan law he signed last year, will fund the growth of semiconductor foundries in our country. These are some of the largest industrial projects on earth and thousands of ironworkers stand to benefit. Biden pointed out more jobs have been created in the first two years of his administration than any other president in four years. This forward-looking industrial policy is a top reason why.
While focusing on his bipartisan accomplishments, Biden acknowledged sometimes Democrats have had to go it alone. The American Rescue Plan, which every Republican in Congress voted against, included long-needed pension relief. Ironworkers from Local 751 in Anchorage, Alaska, won that pension assistance last month, joining Cleveland Iron Workers Local 17, which was awarded pension relief last year. This life-changing help restored the retirement benefits of thousands of ironworkers.
We believe the president’s message was clear. Union ironworkers like Saria will build the years of infrastructure, energy and industrial projects created through the accomplishments of the Biden administration.
In the wake of this State of the Union, we will strap on our tools and get to work.
Laborers (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan:
In his State of the Union address, President Biden laid out his plan to continue progress on the Administration’s landmark accomplishments and finish the job. The Biden Administration is delivering for working men and women through historic investments that are creating good, family-supporting jobs, measures reducing inflation reduction, and record-setting job growth, and wage growth.
The strong, proud, and united men, and women of the Laborers’ International Union of North America could not be more grateful to the President for his commitment to labor rights, good jobs, and protecting our hard-won wages and benefits.
LIUNA looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration to rebuild the backbone of this country with the roll-out of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Machinists (IAM) International President Robert Martinez Jr.:
As one of the largest and most diverse labor unions in the United States, the Machinists Union cares first and foremost about providing good, family-sustaining jobs for our members. And we believe that creating good union jobs here at home is the best way to revitalize our manufacturing sector, grow the middle class, stabilize our national security, and so much more.
In his State of the Union address and through his actions leading our nation, it’s clear that President Biden shares our vision for helping working Americans build back better. For starters, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear a president consistently say that unions are good for working people, the economy and our country. We couldn’t agree more.
Amidst great challenges—a pandemic, inflation, a foreign war that has strained our supply chains, and more—the Biden-Harris administration has remained laser focused on delivering for working people.
Since President Biden took office, the economy has created more than 12 million jobs, including more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs. The unemployment rate is at a 54-year low. Inflation has begun to ease and wages are catching up with higher prices.
Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the American Rescue Plan and more, this administration and its allies in Congress have truly put working people first. By listening to and acting on behalf of working people, instead of large corporations, the Biden-Harris administration has rewritten the rulebook for economic recoveries that benefit Main Street.
And as we make record investments in our nation’s infrastructure, this administration is keeping its promise to strengthen Buy American and ensure the products of tomorrow are built here at home by union workers. The IAM is especially glad to hear that President Biden announced new guidance to ensure that critical materials, including aluminum, are made in America.
We have a long way to go. It’s still too hard for American families to get ahead. Good jobs with strong benefits and secure retirements are still unattainable for far too many working Americans. As public support for unions is at a record-high, we join the president in urging our elected officials in Washington to put politics aside and finally take down the draconian barriers to joining and forming a union. We can start by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.
We know that President Biden, Vice President Harris and those fighting for working families in Washington can’t do it alone. The IAM will continue to advocate for the interests of our members and for workers across North America. Our agenda is America’s agenda—and we look forward to building on the progress of the Biden-Harris administration and protecting our democracy for the generations to come.
National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) President Brian Renfroe:
NALC applauds President Biden for recognizing that unions are the strength of the American workforce. We appreciate his support of organized labor, and we commend him for calling on Congress to pass the PRO Act, which would give all workers the ability to organize and negotiate higher wages, better healthcare and retirement benefits, and safer working conditions.
NALC also recognizes President Biden’s commitment to working with Speaker McCarthy on addressing the debt limit crisis. As we have seen in the past, federal employees, including letter carriers, have been an easy target in these types of negotiations. We urge the President to reject any proposals that seek to reduce or eliminate federal retirement benefits, or that would require public servants to pay a larger share for negotiated benefits that NALC members depend on.
We are committed to continuing working with the Administration and all members of Congress on policies that will improve the work and lives of our members and all working people.
Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) General President James Williams Jr.:
Tonight, like many others, I watched the State of the Union address by President Biden. What I heard was a President who is committed to an agenda that lifts up workers, unions, and our communities. With the lowest unemployment rate and highest number of manufacturing jobs in a generation, the president has delivered on his promise to make steps to rebuild our economy. In the first two years of the Biden Administration, we have seen what steady leadership and a commitment to workers can do with things like the passage of the Chips and Science Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. For our union, that means investing in registered apprenticeship, funding workforce development programs, and ensuring labor standards for all projects funded through public investments. The late Senator Wellstone was fond of saying “we all do better when we all do better” and tonight’s speech again highlighted that the Biden administration continues to be laser focused on helping all of us do better.
UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor:
President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address focused on ways to make a more just economy and help those who have been left behind by an uneven recovery. Corporations—such as the hospitality companies in the industry that we represent—see a global pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage. But with the unequivocal support of the passage of legislation such as the PRO Act, President Biden shows he knows that unions are part of the answer to workplace exploitation.
President Biden also focused his remarks on bread-and-butter economic issues that impact Americans daily. Issues from reigning in on Big Pharma’s greed, taxing the richest billionaires, and immigration reform with a path to citizenship for DACA and TPS holders are ones President Biden understands are what must be addressed for struggling working-class communities to have a chance at recovery. And they are the right kind of issues for Democrats to lead on if they want to connect with voters heading into 2024.
But this administration doesn’t just talk the talk—they’ve walked the walk. Actions like the launch of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment Report, or the appointment of folks like Jennifer Abruzzo and former union leader Marty Walsh to NLRB general counsel and DOL Cabinet Secretary, respectively.
The best way this administration can prove itself to truly be the most “pro-union” of a generation is by continuing to use all the executive power at its hands to support growing the labor movement. UNITE HERE looks forward to continuing to work closely with the White House and our allies in Congress in the months ahead on how we can together achieve a new standard of living for workers across the nation. We have a lot of work to do in 2023.
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International President Marc Perrone:
“Over the past few years, UFCW members across the country in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential industries have secured historic raises and badly needed workplace protections thanks, in part, to the work of the Biden administration which prioritized the needs of America’s essential workers.
“However, there is still more to be done. Passing a worker friendly Farm Bill, lowering healthcare costs, passing the PRO Act to strengthen the right to organize, and holding corporate employers accountable would go a long way towards building a fairer and more just economy that benefits all hard-working families.
“As America’s largest private sector union of essential workers, we look forward to continuing to work with President Biden and Congress on initiatives that will strengthen and improve the state of our union, while protecting the livelihoods of America’s workers now and in the years ahead.”
United Steelworkers (USW) International President Thomas Conway:
In President Biden’s first two years in office, he demonstrated time and again his deep commitment to building an economy that puts working families first, and his accomplishments so far have reflected that dedication. Tonight, we look forward to hearing the president lay out his plan for the next two years, in which we can work together to build on this progress.
The president fought for a series of legislative victories—including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act—that led to the creation of more than 11 million jobs, ushered in historically low unemployment rates, and began to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and supply chains using materials made by American workers.
Those historic victories will ensure good-paying jobs for millions of American families for a generation. Now, however, President Biden is facing two years with an anti-worker majority in the House of Representatives whose leaders are threatening to drive our growing economy off a cliff in an effort to advance an extreme agenda.
This far-right agenda could threaten the future of programs like Social Security and Medicare, putting at risk the secure retirements that millions of American workers have earned with their hard work and sacrifice.
As discussions about the debt ceiling continue, the USW is committed to working with the White House and other pro-worker leaders in Washington, D.C., to ensure that any agreement on spending does not include concessions that would imperil the future of these programs.
In the past two years, Americans have seen the most pro-worker president of our lifetimes fight, and win, countless times on our behalf. Tonight, as we turn our attention to the future, we are determined to build on the progress we’ve made and to keep fighting for an economy that puts workers first.
Alliance for Retired Americans Executive Director Richard Fiesta:
The state of the union is strong, but older Americans’ retirement security is at risk.
The 4.4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans urge President Biden to reiterate that he will not approve any cuts or changes to Americans’ hard earned Social Security and Medicare benefits.
While House Speaker Kevin McCarthy recently said that House Republicans won’t push for cuts to these critical programs during the debt ceiling debate, we frankly don’t believe him.
Speaker McCarthy has voted for Social Security and Medicare cuts as far back as 2013. More than 160 House Republicans endorsed a budget plan for fiscal year 2023 that increased the Social Security and Medicare eligibility age, privatizing Social Security, and reducing Social Security benefits by changing the formula used to calculate them.
Equally troubling is the recent letter two dozen Senate Republicans sent to President Biden on January 27. In it they vowed to vote against any bill to increase the debt ceiling that does not include ‘real structural spending reform that reduces deficit spending and brings fiscal sanity back to Washington.’ Seniors know that is code for Social Security and Medicare cuts.
Fortunately, President Biden has steadfastly pledged not to cut Social Security and Medicare, insisting that the debt ceiling should be addressed ‘without conditions’ and that cuts to these programs are off the table. Tonight’s address is an excellent opportunity to reassure the American people that his position has not changed.
Current and future retirees have earned these benefits. Congress must keep their promise and protect our retirement security.
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA):
In the last year, President Biden and his administration have made strides to make life better for working class Americans. They have worked across the aisle to follow through on several of his campaign promises – signing monumental legislation to combat climate change, to protect our health and our livelihoods during the pandemic, and to address the student loan debt crisis.
Yet, on key issues like immigration and the economy, the Administration has wavered between making progress and falling short. It has not been enough - not enough for workers, for immigrants, for Latinos.
The Administration made history issuing a new guidance that allows immigrant workers to obtain temporary protections, but they have yet to permanently end the “Remain in Mexico” and Title 42 policies, or to establish a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. President Biden was able to bring inflation down and to reduce our country’s unemployment rate to its lowest in over half a century, but high gas and grocery prices still impact all of our lives.
Through his State of the Union address, President Biden issued a call for optimism. For the labor movement, optimism is vital as we are constantly facing new obstacles we must overcome. It allows us to persist and to preserve. But optimism alone does not produce the long-term change our movement strives for.
LCLAA is hopeful for the future because we see that the Administration shares our goals and because we know that our membership and our allies will always organize to push the Administration towards progress. Our members are restless and they will not settle until all Latino working families have equal opportunities to live with dignity.
North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey:
“Last night, President Biden reminded us that when Americans work together, greatness follows. Whether it be rebuilding America’s infrastructure, strengthening protections for workers and increasing the diversity and skills of America’s workforce to restoring multiemployer pensions, boosting U.S. high-tech manufacturing and making the largest investment to fight climate change and accelerate domestic energy production, Biden’s priorities are setting America on a more secure and viable path forward. President Biden and the 117th Congress laid an extraordinary sustainable foundation that will generate millions of middle-class, family-sustaining careers and protect workers’ health and wages for years to come. The 118th Congress must finish the job and deliver more bipartisan wins for America—starting with the National Apprenticeship Act and reforms to our outdated permitting process.
“NABTU applauds President Biden’s blue collar blue print to rebuild America. As a result of his steadfast commitment to uplift working families in forward-focused investments, our economy, national security, public health and safety, and America’s middle class will be stronger with more meaningful opportunities for dignity and shared prosperity for all.”