After President Biden gave his first State of the Union address last night, working people from across the country responded. Here’s what they said:
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler
- The state of our union is strong because America’s working people are strong.
- We were thrilled that President Biden again called for the passage of the PRO Act. He continues to send an incredible message to courageous workers everywhere that the president has their back.
- Under the president’s leadership, we are also done talking about infrastructure “weeks” and will now have an infrastructure “decade” to rebuild and transform America with good union jobs.
- Finally, the president again championed women and families when he called for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act and paid leave, raising the minimum wage to $15, and expansionextension of the child tax credit. These measures would go a long way toward making sure that no one has to raise a family in poverty.
AFGE National President Everett Kelley
Without a doubt, the state of the federal government today is vastly improved from where we were before Joe Biden was elected president. As soon as he took office, President Biden took action to restore civil service protections, union rights, and the basic norms of our democratic government.
Under the Biden administration, federal agencies have been directed to restore full collective bargaining rights and negotiate with labor unions over policies regarding workplace health and safety, expansion of telework, and the safe return to worksites as the risks of the pandemic subside. Tens of thousands of federal employees who were receiving poverty wages working on military bases and VA hospitals and other agencies have received wage increases to a minimum of $15 an hour thanks to President Biden’s order. And through the newly established White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, federal agencies have a roadmap for making the ability to join a union easier for hundreds of thousands of currently unrepresented workers across the country and improving workers’ rights in both the public and private sectors.
AFGE looks forward to continuing to work with President Biden and his administration to strengthen the rights and protections of federal workers, ensure widespread implementation of the president’s executive orders and policy directions, and guarantee that all federal employees have the tools and support they need to do their jobs and deliver for the American public.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders
When President Joe Biden took office, COVID cases were soaring. Millions of Americans had lost their jobs. The unemployment rate was well above 6%, and states and local governing bodies were on the brink of budget crises.
America has seen a dramatic reversal. Today, we are diminishing COVID’s impact on our lives through science. America is hiring again. And best of all, working people have more power than ever, bolstered by an administration that supports their right to organize and strike to demand better pay, benefits and working conditions.
How did President Biden get America back on track? He listened to working people and then he delivered. When public service workers—the everyday heroes who have kept our communities running throughout the pandemic—had their jobs threatened by budget cuts, President Biden showed leadership. By signing the American Rescue Plan, he brought our public services back from the brink, saving jobs and preventing waves of layoffs.
He signed an infrastructure bill that is making historic investments in our roads, bridges, water systems and broadband. He has chosen Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a jurist with an indisputable record of standing with working people, as the first African American woman ever nominated to the Supreme Court. He has rebuilt the federal judiciary with a diversity never seen before, whether measured by professional background or by race and gender. And with a revamped and empowered National Labor Relations Board, workers can finally be confident that their rights will be safeguarded, following four years in which they were gutted or just ignored.
But the State of the Union can’t just be about achievements so far; tonight’s speech must answer the question of what comes next. We must advance the rights and freedoms of both public and private sector workers by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. We must finally allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, invest in child care to support working families and providers alike, curb climate change before it’s too late and ensure that the ultra-wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes so we can make investments in strong communities.
And finally, our democracy is under attack. We must respond in kind by protecting the right of every citizen to cast a ballot and make it easier to vote. The foundation of our nation depends on it.
Working people want this administration to level the playing field and deliver more fundamental change. Now is the time to get it done.
Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President John Costa
Last night, President Biden laid out a clear vision to build a better America. With the help of the ATU, President Biden ran for office and won with the message of growing our economy “from the bottom up and middle out,” ensuring that nobody gets left behind. The Biden-Harris administration has done so by delivering historic results for the American people, including the fastest job growth in American history.
Moving forward, there is still so much work to do. As the President explained, part of ensuring a resilient and sustainable economy will be to eliminate barriers to good-paying jobs by building and buying in America. That also means every worker has the choice to organize and join a union and the right to collectively bargain without coercion or intimidation. We join the President in calling for Congress to immediately pass the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act to make certain that every worker who wants to join a union can.
The President also outlined the importance of expanding skills-based hiring and increasing access to registered apprenticeships and training. The ATU has been at the forefront of apprenticeships in the transit industry to prepare workers for the transition to zero-emission vehicles, including fighting for a historic investment in public transit, improving commutes for Americans across the country, and fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions.
We applaud President Biden for restoring his commitment to creating pathways to the middle class for all Americans. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration to guarantee that working people, the backbone of our economy, are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
On the world’s stage, the ATU also stands with President Biden in condemning the senseless attacks by Russia on the Ukrainian people. We call for an end to this aggressive and unprovoked war. Every person deserves to be free from violence, and as a society, we must come together to safeguard against these kinds of assaults and condemn them in every way possible.
Thank you to President Biden for reestablishing our alliances around the world in the struggle for democracy and setting the course for our future.
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
In his first State of the Union address, President Biden made it clear that creating jobs through investment in our country’s infrastructure and empowering workers has been the foundation of his agenda to strengthen our country.
“When we invest in our workers, when we build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out together, we can do something we haven’t done in a long time: build a better America,” the President said.
Biden’s address highlighted the many ways that his administration has addressed the needs of working families in the first year of his presidency. When he says that we need to strengthen our supply chains by making more things in America it is not just empty rhetoric. He has already taken executive action to close loopholes in existing Made in America requirements. Funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will facilitate economic development by improving our transportation capacity and bringing high-speed internet connections to communities across the country while creating good jobs in the industry.
CWA commends President Biden for presenting a clear plan to improve the lives of working families, boost our economy and address rising costs. We agree that Congress must pass legislation to reduce prescription drug, health care and child care costs and to make higher education more affordable and that this can be done by making sure that corporations and the wealthiest Americans start paying their fair share.
As union members, we know that overcoming the relentless and coordinated corporate attack on workers’ rights is a difficult task and there is much left to be done. President Biden left no doubt that he believes that every worker in every state must 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. He also pointed out the insufficiency of our current labor laws, calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
CWA applauds President Biden’s focus on worker empowerment and we will continue to support the Administration in its effort to create more good union jobs, support workers’ organizing for better pay and working conditions and reform weak and outdated labor laws.
Marc Ellis, President of CWA Local 9413 in Nevada, attended the State of the Union address virtually as the guest of U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.). Rosen, a co-sponsor of the PRO Act, was instrumental in attaching high labor standard requirements to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s broadband funding. “Experienced, trained telecommunications workers—like the union members of Communications Workers of America Local 9413—are going to play a critical role in building out and modernizing our broadband network in Northern Nevada and across the country, thanks to Senator Jacky Rosen’s work on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” Ellis said.
Electrical Workers (IBEW) International President Lonnie Stephenson
When the American people overwhelmingly elected Joe Biden to be America’s 46th president, they sent him to Washington with a mandate that was simple and pure: get control of a raging pandemic; grow our economy from the bottom and middle out, not the top down; and make life better for working families. One year into his presidency, and so far, no president has done more for working families than Joe Biden.
Within days of taking office, President Biden signed dozens of executive orders that promote worker-friendly policies, including those that create good jobs in the energy sector. He appointed a union member to lead the Department of Labor, has been an outspoken proponent of the PRO Act, defended registered apprenticeships, and launched the first-ever White House Task force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment.
President Biden worked with Democrats and Republicans to sign into law the largest infrastructure investment in our nation’s history. To help stop the spread and curb the dangers of COVID-19, the Biden administration helped get more than two hundred million shots in arms in six months. And in the face of a deeply divided country and Congress, with a global pandemic raging that has caused unprecedented supply chain disruptions and massive job losses, President Biden worked with Democratic majorities to provide much-needed relief to the American people through the American Rescue Plan, saving our paychecks, pensions, and public services.
On the campaign trail and throughout his presidency, Joe Biden has promised to be the most pro-union, pro-worker president in history. When he talks about how unions built the middle class, it isn’t nostalgia. President Biden is actively creating an environment where unions—and by default, all working families—can flourish for generations to come.
Thanks to President Biden, the state of our union, the state of our economy, and the state of working families in America is strong. The IBEW and its 775,000 members applaud the Biden administration’s pro-worker, pro-union approach to governing, and look forward to working together to continue growing the economy in a way that works for everyone.
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)
The first year of the Biden-Harris administration has produced historic results for working people across the United States. By governing with an economic vision focused on growing the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, President Biden has achieved much-needed victories for working families.
- Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the economy has rebounded from a disastrous two years and has achieved its fastest job growth in American history—including the addition of 375,000 manufacturing jobs in just one year.
- In the last year, companies announced nearly $200 billion in investments for semiconductor, electric vehicle battery, and critical mineral production and manufacturing in the United States.
- Intel recently announced a new $20 billion factory outside of Columbus, Ohio that will create 7,000 construction jobs and another 3,000 permanent jobs.
- President Biden is swiftly implementing the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure law (BIL), which will create jobs for SMART members improving indoor air quality in buildings, advance railroad safety and drive demand for the products and services provided by SMART sheet metal workers
This extraordinary progress is occurring during a long-overdue shift from an outdated and unfair trickle-down approach to one that centers workers, families and small businesses. Now, we call on Congress to support the legislative priorities President Biden outlined during the State of the Union. These include:
- Building upon the historic economic recovery of the last year by eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs for workers across America. President Biden specifically outlined his support for enacting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act; expanding skills-based hiring and increasing access to registered apprenticeships and training; creating a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program; and more. Such measures are vital for SMART members and all workers.
- Strengthening our supply chain, transporting goods faster and cheaper and prioritizing products that are made in America. The last year has already seen exceptional growth in American manufacturing production and employment. President Biden plans to build on the victories already won with the implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding; we call on Congress to supplement those efforts with legislation that encourages competition, innovation and the creation of good, union jobs.
- Reducing everyday costs for working Americans. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan lowered the cost of health care, expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit and provided hard-earned tax relief for millions of middle-class families through an expanded Child Tax Credit. We echo President Biden’s call for legislation that further lowers everyday expenses for American workers and their families by ensuring that corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.
- Promoting fair competition to lower prices, protect consumers and help small businesses. In his State of the Union address, President Biden announced the Biden-Harris Administration’s intent to lower prices for Americans and businesses by combatting unfair ocean shipping practices—launching a new Federal Maritime Commission and Department of Justice initiative to promote competition in the ocean freight transportation system, increasing federal oversight of global ocean shipping and more.
Finally, SMART commends the president for pledging to address the ongoing health emergencies facing the American people. By committing to improving the safety of nursing homes and protecting residents and health care workers from bad actors, the Biden-Harris Administration again demonstrates its dedication to safeguarding the lives of our loved ones. And with his stated whole-of-government strategy to take on America’s national mental health crisis—which has had tragic consequences in the building trades—President Biden once again demonstrated his loyalty to SMART members, their families and all American workers.
The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers salutes President Joe Biden’s message to Congress in his State of the Union address.
In his speech, President Biden did not shy away from the challenges and uncertainty that many Americans are living with. But his words remind us that our country has overcome challenges before through unity and determination.
The President highlighted his administration’s initiatives that meet the country’s challenges head-on and bring us together. The American Rescue Plan offered a lifeline to working people during the middle of the pandemic. The ARP kept state governments afloat and their infrastructure funds full, preserving and creating thousands of Ironworker jobs. The Rescue Plan’s investments powered the recovery that has kept unemployment low all the way to today.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is an historic investment that will transform our nation’s transportation, water and energy systems for the better. The ongoing rollout promises good union jobs and opportunity for every community in America. The bipartisan majorities that passed the law in both houses of Congress are proof that we can still work together.
President Biden emphasized his administration’s substantial focus on domestic manufacturing as an important tool to create jobs, secure supply chains, and lower costs. Since Biden entered office, our union has seen an explosion of investment in factories for semiconductors, electric vehicles, and other manufactured goods. The administration’s policies will foster and expand this manufacturing renaissance.
Our union supports these and other policies to help working-class Americans and will continue to work with the administration to help them succeed. This is an opportunity to reflect on the past year’s achievements and plan to meet the challenges of the present. If we are united, as a union and as a country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
Laborers (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan
One year in, President Joe Biden’s vow to be the most pro-union and pro-worker President in our nation’s history is more than evident to LIUNA families. The President underscored his values, commitment, and dedication to improving opportunities for working men and women once again in his State of the Union remarks. His leadership in the passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the single-largest investment in our nation’s transportation system in our lifetime, exemplifies his determination to create good union jobs and build the middle-class.
While the pandemic has posed incredible challenges for our economy and the very health and well-being of ourselves and our families, this Administration is acting with decisiveness and determination to confront inflation, restore our economy, ensure Americans have access to vaccines and testing, and reduce child poverty to historic lows.
The President also laid out his vision to fix our broken immigration system and provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS-holders. LIUNA urges Congress to act on the President’s proposals and provide relief to hundreds of thousands of hard-working immigrant families – many of whom are union members, working in the construction industry.
LIUNA commends the Biden Administration for prioritizing the needs of working men and women by reversing anti-worker policies, and implementing worker-friendly, union-friendly initiatives. With more good union jobs, a stronger, more robust economy, and a federal government committed to allowing workers the right to join unions, LIUNA members look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with the President and his Administration to continue this impressive momentum.
Machinists (IAM) International President Robert Martinez Jr.
The IAM was proud to endorse President Biden through a first-of-its-kind, rank-and-file membership vote. Through the activism of our members and so many worker-friendly allies, we now have a true ‘union man’ in the White House. For the first time in generations, we are witnessing an all-of-government approach to putting the interests of working families first.
We are emerging from the pandemic with historic job growth. Working people are finally able to tip the scales in their favor, demanding higher wages and better benefits from their employers. The President promised to rebuild America and expand Buy American—and he is delivering for the best workers in the world. American manufacturing is back, and the IAM and our allies in the labor movement are just getting started. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will create even more good jobs, while investing in our aging airports, public transit systems and more.
But as the President said tonight, there is far more work to be done. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine makes even more clear, we must immediately strengthen our domestic supply chains, especially in the defense industry. We must take measures to lower consumer prices, broaden access to apprenticeship programs, create a national paid family and medical leave program, and protect our sacred right to vote. For the millions of Americans who want to join a union today, we also must pass the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
These should not be partisan issues. This is about a better life for working families. We stand with the Biden administration and all allies of working people to create a brighter future for the generations to come.
Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU)
In his address to Congress tonight, President Biden outlined the challenging path toward recovery his administration has carved since taking office in January 2021.
President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is injecting $1.3 trillion worth of federal funding into local economies to repair or rebuild roads, bridges, water systems, airports, buses, trains and schools. These important projects will have positive ripple effects through our communities as good-paying union jobs are created in the process which, research shows, raises living standards for all workers in the area, both union and non-union.
But OPEIU members, like most working Americans, are concerned: how rising wages due to a tight labor market are being nullified by inflation, driven in no small part by corporate greed; about the growing wage and health inequities exacerbated by the lingering COVID-19 pandemic; how corporate America continues to get away with union-busting, tax-dodging and destroying the planet; and how to cope with the ongoing student debt crisis that threatens to derail economic growth if the payment pause is ended.
That’s why President Biden’s call to pass the PRO Act—the most consequential labor law reform legislation in modern history—is so important. If signed into law, it can and will rebalance labor relations in the U.S., creating a more level playing field between disempowered workers and employers who regularly violate employees’ rights without penalty. His promotion of apprenticeship programs serves this shared goal, as well, as these programs provide a meaningful and tangible path to the middle class for working families.
Raising the minimum wage, creating a national paid family and medical leave program, and enacting price controls on pharmaceutical and insurance premiums would go a long way toward easing the financial stresses faced by the American people and we applaud the president raising these issues. On many other important issues, however, the people cannot afford to wait for a broken Congress to provide desperately needed relief. With Republican leadership intent on stymieing any progress led by this administration, President Biden must use the powers of his office to do what he can on his own
President Biden can, with the stroke of his pen, unilaterally cancel all federal student loan debt, effectively ending the crisis that has prevented millions from attaining the financial security they need to buy homes and start families in their own communities. He can protect natural lands from corporate exploitation, preserving them for future generations, via executive order. And he can broadly expand the rights of public sector employees by taking executive action.
If ever there has been a time for President Biden to deliver on the bold, progressive leadership he promised when OPEIU members voted to endorse him in the 2020 presidential campaign, it is now. We look forward to working with him in the coming months to make these sensible pro-worker proposals a reality.
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland
President Biden made clear tonight that a robust labor movement will make our economy stronger than ever. Employers have had far too much power for way too long. Passing the PRO Act law is an essential step for workers to ensure they share in the wealth they help to create, and allow them to build a better future for their families. The PRO Act will give workers the freedom to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain for safer working conditions and fair wages, ushering in a new golden age of labor and the middle class. SAG-AFTRA applauds President Biden for prioritizing this essential piece of legislation and will continue fighting to make the PRO Act the law.
This PRO Act would empower workers to exercise freedom to organize and negotiate for better wages and working conditions, remove archaic barriers to organizing, increase worker protections, and strengthen the institutions that hold corporations accountable. SAG-AFTRA played a leading role in advocating for the legislation. Last spring, SAG-AFTRA members participated in a PRO Act Day of Action with the AFL-CIO.
This legislation currently has the support of 214 members of the House of Representatives and 47 members of the Senate.
School Administrators (AFSA) President Ernest Logan
President Joe Biden’s focus on the mental health of students in his State of the Union address is a giant step forward for the country as we try to bring some level of normal back into the lives of the students we serve every day. This type of investment can have real returns for all of us as we move forward.
However, one of the missing ingredients in Biden’s plan is the lack of acknowledgment that educators across the country are also in great need of support. As a nation, we must take care of the people empowered to teach our children and lead our schools. If they don’t have a strong footing, it is hard for them to effectively educate our next generation. If they are not supported, they may exit the profession and deepen the already-large educator shortages we are enduring right now.
Let’s expand President Biden’s idea of more mental health professionals in our schools supporting students to include a larger, comprehensive, school district-wide effort that addresses the needs of all students, teachers, support staff and leaders within the school community.
Transport Workers Union (TWU)
UAW President Ray Curry
Under President Biden’s leadership, we have seen unprecedented job growth and rising wages.
The President has directly confronted the coronavirus pandemic that has taken the lives of almost nine hundred and fifty thousand of our fellow citizens. Through his leadership, we are now better protected, and the number of infections is declining.
Of course, challenges remain and there is more work to do. Congress must act on the President’s priorities. For starters, the Senate should pass the PRO Act and Confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the highest court in the land.
Together with the Biden Administration, we are working to ensure that the transition to electric vehicles supports good union jobs by passing the Stabenow/Kildee electric vehicle tax credit and complementary policies into law.
We are working together to strengthen our supply chain, so we no longer face a crippling chip shortage that has hurt our members who build consumer vehicles, Heavy Truck vehicles and Agricultural and Construction Equipment.
By laying out this agenda, President Biden offers a clear path forward that builds America back better than ever. UAW and working families need lower prescription drug costs and more affordable quality healthcare, so no one is forced to choose between putting food on the table and affording life-saving drugs or going to the doctor. We must make childcare affordable, so parents can work knowing their children are safe.
Equally important to UAW members and working families are the attacks on our democracy occurring across our country as falsehoods about the 2020 election continue to spread, and dozens of states enact restrictive voting laws that threaten to disenfranchise lawful citizens from the ballot. It is troubling that legislation to protect our most fundamental democratic rights as voters was filibustered in the Senate. Make no mistake—these attacks do more than threaten an idea of democracy; they cripple the foundation that grants our members their right to organize and secure higher standards of living for themselves and their families.
Finally, President Biden addressed the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which is an affront to all democratic forms of government and all people of goodwill. We stand with President Biden and our allies in defending the hardworking families of Ukraine and their democracy.
It is long past time we unite to address these issues as a country. The UAW is prepared to work with Congress and the Biden Administration to meet this moment as we have throughout our history.
UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor
We are in a marker moment for organizing, and tonight’s State of the Union address shows us once again that the Biden administration is pro-worker and pro-union. We are just one-year into a four-year term, but this year has been a world of difference from the previous administration that blatantly prioritized the needs of rich corporations and billionaires over workers and families amid a global pandemic.
President Biden’s remarks tonight reflect his promise to put workers on the forefront of his priorities—from raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour to calling on Congress to pass the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. We have seen swift action to ensure key cabinets and agencies are headed by pro-worker leadership—including an actual labor leader heading the Department of Labor—with the backing and direction to advance the policies that will change lives. We also saw the passage of one of the most transformational pieces of legislation via the American Rescue Plan that for months helped keep some cash in people’s pockets while allowing for tens of thousands of laid off workers to access free healthcare through 100% COBRA coverage. More recently, we’ve celebrated the nomination of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court with Biden’s strong pick in Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson who has a record of defending the right to organize and the right to vote.
Now, it is 2022—and Midterm elections are around the corner. Our members are going to be asking themselves if they are better off than they were before voting for this President. Looking ahead, this administration must do whatever it takes to fulfill critical campaign promises. But before anything, we need to win—and win big, so we can secure more seats for a real Democratic-majority. This can only happen if the progressive and labor movement come together to fight for the administration’s bold agenda. We can’t do it alone.
United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA)
Following President Biden’s State of the Union address, United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) General President Mark McManus praised the important progress made by this Administration to create good-paying union jobs, protect the rights of workers everywhere, and give more American families a fair shot at the middle class. Two United Association members were also in attendance as virtual guests: Randy Lorge and Justin Pomerville.
“During this first year in office, President Biden has kept his promise of creating good-paying union jobs and helping more families succeed as we work to build back better. In his speech tonight, President Biden vowed to expand workers’ rights by passing the PRO Act and to ensure all Americans can earn fair wages and benefits,” said Mark McManus, General President of the United Association. “From replacing lead lines to modernizing our energy infrastructure, President Biden is committed to creating good-paying UA jobs. Tonight, he charted a clear path forward to continue to provide clean drinking water, to deliver efficient, reliable, and affordable energy to American consumers, and to strengthen our registered apprenticeship system.”
Randy Lorge, a third-generation plumber, lifelong member of UA Local 400 in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, and the Director of Workforce Training and Development at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), was the guest of Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI):
“President Biden and Senator Baldwin have worked tirelessly to create good-paying jobs for union members like me as we rebuild our infrastructure and replace lead lines across Wisconsin and the entire country. I was honored to join Senator Baldwin for the State of the Union address tonight,” said Randy Lorge. “President Biden and Senator Baldwin have delivered millions in funding to replace lead lines and to protect our clean water supply, to modernize our water infrastructure, and to eliminate dangerous and harmful contaminants like PFAS right here at home in Wisconsin—all with good-paying union jobs with fair benefits.”
Justin Pomerville, Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer of UA Local 85 in Saginaw, Michigan, and Secretary of the Michigan Pipe Trades Association was the guest of Senator Gary Peters (D-MI):
“Over the last year, President Biden and Senator Peters have delivered for working families like mine. From the strong labor protections included in the bipartisan infrastructure law to the executive order requiring project labor agreements on federal projects, President Biden is keeping his promise to build back better with union members leading the way,” said Pomerville. “I was honored to join Senator Peters tonight for the State of the Union to highlight the critical work United Association members do daily, like delivering clean water, providing reliable and affordable energy, and installing fire suppression systems. As they showed tonight, President Biden and Senator Peters will continue to ensure working families have a fair shot at success.”
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International President Marc Perrone
Working Americans are rightly concerned about the state of the world. While the country is thankfully emerging from the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, it now faces another global crisis with Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. Tonight, President Biden laid out a clear plan to provide relief to hard-working Americans and their families by reducing costs and eliminating barriers to good jobs.
Currently, the U.S. is seeing one of the strongest labor markets in recent history but many workers still face hurdles when it comes to accessing good-paying jobs that can support a family. As the nation’s largest private sector union, UFCW strongly endorses President Biden’s initiatives to increase access to apprenticeships and training, support paycheck fairness, provide paid family and medical leave, and protect workers’ rights to join a union. We believe this—along with plans to protect consumers and reduce the cost of everyday expenses—will provide working families with the ability to build better lives they have earned and deserve.
UFCW calls on Congress to take immediate action to move these crucial initiatives forward.
United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway
Tonight, President Joe Biden articulated a vision for the United States that puts working families at the forefront of our nation’s economic future.
After two years of a global pandemic and economic crisis in which we have seen the rich get richer and too many workers continue to fall behind, the USW supports President Biden’s agenda and looks forward to working with him and others in Washington to put pro-worker, pro-family policies into action.
The president’s first year in office has already resulted in major victories, including the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the creation of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. These initiatives will help ensure good-paying union jobs for millions of American workers in the years to come.
While the recent events in Ukraine clearly highlight our need to focus on foreign as well as domestic priorities, we must remember that to be strong around the world, we must first be strong at home. That means bolstering domestic supply chains for vital goods, providing education and job training to ensure that manufacturers have the skilled workers they need, building up our healthcare system, passing labor protections like the PRO Act and extending benefits like paid family and medical leave to all workers.
The president today laid out an ambitious agenda that will make our nation more secure, provide good-paying jobs to millions of workers, support struggling families, keep rising prices under control and ensure that communities will continue to thrive for generations to come. We are eager to do everything we can to help him achieve these goals.
Alliance for Retired Americans Executive Director Richard Fiesta
President Biden had seniors’ interests at the top of his priorities list last night during his State of the Union address.
Noting that Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, he continued to push for allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, as the Veterans Administration and Medicaid programs do. Capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month will also be a welcome and necessary change. Congress should direct Medicare to take the $450 billion in savings from drug negotiations savings and use it to expand benefits for vision, dental and hearing.
As of December 2021, legislators in 19 states have enacted 34 laws with provisions that severely restrict voting access. As President Biden said, Congress must pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to ensure that seniors’ voices are heard at the ballot box.
We also fully support President Biden’s call for higher standards for nursing homes, including providing a sufficient number of staff who are adequately trained to provide high-quality care, and withholding taxpayer dollars from poorly performing facilities that offer improper and unsafe care.
President Biden is all too aware that several measures have stalled in the Senate after House passage. That is why he called for passing the PRO Act, which will allow workers to join a union without facing corporations’ unnecessary impediments, and for increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, which would mean higher Social Security benefits for seniors upon retirement.
The House has already passed bills that would lower prescription drug prices, protect voting rights, make the PRO Act the law of the land and raise the minimum wage. We call on the U.S. Senate to listen to President Biden and follow suit.
Pride At Work Executive Director Jerame Davis
President Biden’s words of support for the transgender community are heartening to hear, but the reality is that transgender and gender non-conforming folks need the protections of the Equality Act before they can fully, ‘reach (their) God-given potential.’
The President was right to call on Congress to pass this important bill. LGBTQ+ working people need the Equality Act on his desk as soon as possible. President Biden promised to pass the Equality Act in his first 100 days as president and even though it has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, it is being held up in the Senate by threat of filibuster.
Similarly, the PRO Act is a vital piece of legislation to level the playing field for working people to come together and form a union in their workplace. LGBTQ+ working people are less vulnerable to discrimination and have more of a voice in their workplace when they are part of a union. In the absence of the explicit protections afforded by the Equality Act, LGBTQ+ working people’s best, most durable workplace protection is an inclusive union contract.
While these statements from the president are a positive departure from the previous administration’s open hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community, there is still much work to be done.
Pride at Work continues to be on the front lines fighting to pass the PRO Act and the Equality Act. We urge the Senate to heed the President’s call and pass both bills without further delay.
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Officers, President Greg Regan and Secretary-Treasurer Shari Semelsberger (OPEIU)
From the passage of the American Rescue Plan to the biggest investment in infrastructure in our nation’s history, the first year of the Biden Administration was a capstone year of legislative victories for transportation labor unions and working people.
Chief among these legislative victories is the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), a once-in-a-generation investment across every sector of our transportation network—and an unprecedented investment in workers.
We proudly represent 36 labor unions whose members will be put to work during the implementation of this historic legislation, ushering in a new era of manufacturing, construction, and transportation job creation. We applaud President Biden for putting union job creation and worker empowerment at the center of his governing agenda.
We welcome the progress of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, which recently released a report outlining 70 recommendations to empower workers, including an initiative to increase worker awareness of their federally protected rights to organize and establish a resource center for information on unions and collective bargaining.
We urge Congress to heed the President’s call to pass the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would help workers collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.
We look forward to continuing to work with President Biden and the Administration to create good union jobs, invest in America’s transportation infrastructure, and expand collective bargaining for every transportation worker in the nation.
Arizona AFL-CIO Executive Director Fred Yamashita (UFCW)
In his first formal State of the Union Address, President Biden fervently advocated for working families. As President Biden has said for years, “when we build labor, we build the middle class.” The President understands that in order to rebuild the middle class and tackle America’s affordability crisis, we must make it easier for working people to join a union.
The President’s focus on increasing wages, not costs, by investing in American manufacturing is a testament to why working Arizonans mobilized in unprecedented numbers to elect him in 2020. Coupled with his commitment to championing the Richard L. Trumka PRO Act through the U.S. Senate, tonight’s address is a testament to Biden’s administration’s continued commitment to delivering good-paying, union jobs for working people and their families.
Now is the time for Senators Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Kelly and our leaders on Capitol Hill to support President Biden’s pro-worker, pro-family agenda by the PRO Act and the Build Back Better framework immediately.
Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman (TCU/IAM)
Last night, President Biden showed the country what we already know to be true. This is the most Pro-Labor administration in American History. From record job creation, to championing an economy built ‘from the bottom up and the middle out together,’ President Biden has proven to be the partner that the Labor Movement needs in the White House.
President Biden’s address was a passionate call to action for working people. A call to action to bring workers’ rights and social and economic justice to our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and the halls of government. A call to action to advocate for key legislation like the Richard Trumka PRO Act, the most significant legislation for working people in generations.
Missouri AFL-CIO President Jacob Hummel (IBEW)
President Biden showed once again that he is a champion for American workers. From his public support of the PRO Act to apprenticeship programs, from his calls to buy made in America to capping prescription drug costs; President Biden demonstrated he is in touch with the issues that matter to working families. Joe Biden promised to be a friend to the American worker, and he’s proven to be a man who keeps his promise.
Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Billy Dycus (USW)
In Tennessee, the majority of our state leaders are quick to tout that they are proudly pro-business while pushing working families aside. Tonight, it was both inspiring and refreshing to hear President Joe Biden strike a notably different tone. Unions built the middle class and are directly responsible for creating good-paying, family-sustaining jobs—just like the ones that will be coming to the Memphis Regional Megasite in West Tennessee. The union difference is unquestionably real.
At a time when union-busting is running rampant nationwide and happening in our own backyard after the firing of seven Memphis Starbucks workers last month, President Biden’s emphasis on the right to organize without fear of retaliation or other consequences is especially meaningful. That’s why we need to continue working to ensure that we pass pro-worker policies at all levels of government and fix our broken labor laws.
The President’s remarks were a celebration of how far the labor movement has come this past year and also a powerful reminder of the important tasks that still lie ahead. Together in solidarity with working families across the country, we are ready to get the job done.
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale (AFT)
President Biden understands that strong unions are the economic engine that fuel the strength of our American middle class. By leaving behind the failed, outdated trickle-down policies of yesteryear, President Biden and Vice President Harris have created the fastest job growth in American history and the fastest economic growth in generations.
In his first State of the Union, President Biden once again called on Congress to pass the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to update our labor laws to better serve the American worker and remove barriers to good-paying jobs for all.
Empowering and supporting workers is the centerpiece of President Biden’s agenda. In tonight’s address, President Biden laid out a pathway to supporting workers’ rights, raising wages, making things in America again and investing in the American people.
We look forward to welcoming President Biden to Superior, Wisconsin, tomorrow to talk Wisconsin infrastructure needs and the many ways the President’s historic bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will create and expand good jobs and economic opportunity for Wisconsin workers.
Milwaukee Area Labor Council
In discussing priorities on the federal level, let’s take a moment to celebrate the victory that President Biden worked with Congress to pass a massive infrastructure bill, fulfilling a major campaign promise in his first year in office. To build on this investment in America’s future, we need the President to work with the Senate to come to agreement on the $550 billion landmark investments to address climate change, create a just transition from legacy to renewable energy, and improve equity in our communities. We can rebuild manufacturing supply chains for a new era. Climate investments will create new apprenticeship opportunities in the skilled trades and provide a life-line for new and diverse entrants seeking pathways to the middle class. The path to growth is before us.