A day after handing labor unions a major victory by signing an equal-pay law, President Obama today issued a series of executive orders that he said should "level the playing field" for labor against management.
The orders, which union officials say will undo Bush administration policies that favored employers, will:
-- Require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
-- Reverse a Bush order requiring federal contractors to post notices that workers can limit financial support of unions.
-- Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union.
"I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution," Obama said to applause as he signed the orders at a launch of a task force on the middle class, where its chairman, Vice President Biden, explicitly welcomed labor leaders back to the White House.
"Todayís actions show that the Obama White House is the working familiesí White House," AFL-CIO president John Sweeney said in a statement.
"It couldnít come at a better time. Itís flabbergasting, in the midst of a painful recession, to see Exxon Mobilís $45.2 billion record profit, million dollar Wall Street bonuses, and more corporate jets for the bailout recipients as they rail against workersí rights," Sweeney added.
"The Task Force on Middle Class Working Families and the Executive Orders are the first step in a long road to restore balance between workers and corporations. As the weeks and months continue, we thank God that we have a president, vice president, and Congress who are determined to fix our economy so that it works for everyone."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.