When President Obama told union workers during his Labor Day speech in Boston on Monday that his executive order will require federal contractors to extend the number of paid sick leave days, there was sustained applause.? ?Right now,? he said, ?you have parents who have to choose between losing income or staying home with a sick child.?
The benefits, he added, would apply to 300,000 federal contractors who are currently without such benefits.
Any mention of an executive order is like waving a red flag in front of a bull, and Obama anticipated push back from Republicans.? He said that the Republicans believe cutting taxes and loosening regulations is the best way to stimulate the economy.? ?Just wait,? he joked, ?look up in the sky, and see prosperity come raining down on us on top of whatever high rise is in New York City.”
?That?s not how the economy works,? he continued, mocking the notion of a trickle down economy.
To underscore his message and give it gender ballast, he said that ?right now, we are the only advanced nation on Earth that does not guarantee paid maternity leave?Now, for the men in the audience in particular, think about that.? We wouldn?t even go to work if we had to carry around somebody for nine months.? The human race would evaporate.?? Again there was loud applause accompanied by outbursts of laughter.
Under the new executive order, federal contractors will now earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, with a cap at seven days of paid time off per year, a statement from the administration explained.? None of this will take effect until 2017 when Obama is no longer in office.
Several of his remarks were directly at Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and his support for anti-union laws, and his bragging about breaking up the unions in his state.? While he did not mention Walker?s name, it was clear that he was ridiculing him and his suggestion last winter that ?busting unions prepared him to fight ISIL.???????
In his advocacy for unions and targeting GOP presidential candidates, Obama was signaling his Democratic presidential contenders an attack mode during their campaign.? It was also a clarion call to the labor unions, hoping to repair whatever rupture he may have caused in his push for international trade deals.
As usual, no matter the gravity of the speech, Obama always finds a moment of levity and humor.? That moment came when he joked about Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, who recently had his four-game suspension lifted.? ?Even Brady?s happy he?s got a union.?