White House Holds Summit On Worker Issues

Date: October 12, 2015

Summit On Worker Voice Addresses Wage, Benefit Issues

Last week, the Obama Administration held an event dubbed the White House Summit on Worker Voice, which included a meeting between President Obama and a group of workers, in which he addressed a range of issues including wages and benefits. USA Today reported that in his comments the president said, “Wages need to rise more quickly. We need jobs to offer the kind of pay and benefits that let people raise a family – and in order to do that, workers need a voice.” He also lamented that “as union membership has fallen, inequality has risen” and “said…workers need a unified voice to confront economic problems that have built up over decades, from a ‘flat-lining’ of wages and salaries to changes in technology that have made it easier for employers to do more with less.” In a statement the White House said the goal of the summit was “to explore ways to ensure that working Americans are fully sharing in the benefits of the broad-based economic growth that they are helping to create.” However, “business groups such as the National Retail Federation described the summit as an administration effort to build up its union political support.” In his union-specific comments during the summit, Reuters reported that Obama also said, “I believe when people attack unions, they’re attacking the middle class.”

Obama, reported the Washington Times, also “called on all stakeholders to design a new social compact centered on worker protections, higher wages, mandatory sick and family leave, workplace safety and more power for labor unions.” Said Obama, “If we don’t refashion the social compact so that workers are able to be rewarded properly for the labor that they put in…then we’re going to have problems. It’s not just going to be a problem for our politics, creating resentment and anxiety. It’s going to be a problem for our economy.”

What This Means For Small Businesses

President Obama’s summit was a chance for the White House to score political points during the current election cycle with left-leaning union groups. Discussion of wage and benefit issues from this Administration has been woefully lacking in addressing the concerns of the small, independent American businesses that help the US economy grow and help create jobs. President Obama should meet with small business owners to hear their concerns on these issues.

Additional Reading

The New York Daily News and McClatchy also covered the story.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

Related Content: Small Business News | Labor

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