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WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Labor and Business Leaders Applaud President Biden's State of the Union Address

March 02, 2022

In his first State of the Union, the President spoke directly to the American people about his vision to build a better America. He reminded the country that our best days lie ahead, and that his Presidency is about giving everyone a fair shot – because when given half a shot, ordinary people can do extraordinary things. The Biden-Harris Administration's domestic agenda represents an historic shift from the old, outdated trickle-down approach to one that puts workers, families, and small businesses first.

The President also announced his unity agenda, consisting of four areas where we have historically been able to come together and find agreement regardless of party. He has called on Congress to send bills to his desk to deliver progress for the American people: to beat the opioid crisis, address mental health, support our veterans, and end cancer as we know it.

Over the next year, the Biden-Harris Administration will continue working to make communities safer, combat COVID, and create good-paying jobs through revitalized domestic manufacturing.

Labor and business leaders championed the President's remarks.

Here's what they are saying:

Business

Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors and Chair, Business Roundtable: "We face unprecedented challenges that require bold solutions. Business Roundtable is committed to working with the Biden Administration and both parties in Congress to preserve U.S. economic strength and global leadership and to expand opportunity for all Americans. We will continue to work to address pandemic-related challenges, including labor market and supply chain disruptions, and to advocate for sound economic policies that position the United States to compete and thrive over the long term. We believe there are many opportunities to work with policymakers of both parties to advance policy solutions that meet the needs of our country, U.S. businesses, workers and families over the year to come." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Liz Fairchild, Executive Director, Business Forward: : "Since President Biden took office last year, America's 32.5 million small businesses have made it clear what issues matter to their business, their employees, and their communities. Last night, the President spoke directly to these key issues, including rising costs, attacks on our democracy, and upholding America's rule of law. President Biden highlighted the urgent need to confirm his nominees to the Federal Reserve, which he emphasized would play a "critical role" in fighting inflation and explained how a timely confirmation process will advance his plan to bring costs down for working families and lower the deficit. Local business leaders know that a responsive government is essential to a strong economy, and amid a critical moment for democracies around the world, the President reiterated the importance of prioritizing transparency in democracy. He called on the Senate to pass both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Less than a week since Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to the Supreme Court, small businesses have already vocalized widespread support, including within our network. President Biden used last night's address to describe Judge Jackson as a "consensus builder" who has immediately received broad support from across the aisle. I urge our elected officials to take these critical measures in support of the small business community, the backbone of our nation's economy." [Statement, 3/2/22]

Rhett Buttle, Founder, Public Private Strategies: "In tonight's State of the Union address, the President laid out a plan to build upon the economic progress made over the last year and continue America's leadership for democracy, at home and abroad. The American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal have contributed to the fastest economic growth our country has experienced in 40 years, including the creation of nearly 6 million jobs, the lowest rate of unemployment claims since 1969, and a $90 billion increase in retail sales. This is crucial progress we've made in overcoming the economic challenges presented by the pandemic, but there is more work to do. Small businesses across the country need policies that will continue to give them a fighting chance, like lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, increasing access to capital, and modernizing our economy to support small business employees. This includes delivering paid leave programs and affordable childcare for owners and employees, which will help build a stronger, more resilient workforce. [Statement, 3/1/22]

Cristina Morales Heaney, Board Chair, National Association of Women Business Owners: "NAWBO is pleased to see the President putting the need for workforce training in the forefront of his economic policy agenda," said "In a recent survey of NAWBO's women business owners, 40% of NAWBO's women business owners reported difficulty hiring last fall. We truly believe our nation must provide training to close the skills gap or reskill our workforce to ensure that women business owners have access to talent and can compete to build sustainable businesses. We hope bipartisan efforts will work to bring this idea to fruition." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Steve Croley, Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel, Ford: "Exactly right, @POTUS. @Ford is making the largest investment in our nearly 120-year history to build #EVs & batteries to power them. Strengthening U.S. supply chains and making more chips means improving our global competitiveness, manufacturing capacity & good jobs." [Tweet, 3/1/22]

Barabara Humpton, CEO, Siemens: @SiemensUS_CEOWe agree and are ready to get to work. The stage is set for decarbonizing the economy, boosting U.S. #manufacturing, creating jobs, and increasing equity. #SOTU [Tweet, 3/1/22]

Anne Zimmerman, C0-Chair, Small Business for America's Future: "During his first State of the Union address, President Biden rightfully highlighted the strong economic progress we have been made, but we were most heartened that he did not shrink from the need to do more to help Main Street small businesses recover from the biggest shock they've experienced in a century … We also support President Biden's call on Congress to provide the resources needed to expand prosecutions of egregious pandemic fraud. PPP loans were meant for small businesses facing layoffs and closures due to the pandemic—individuals who fraudulently obtained loans meant for struggling entrepreneurs should be held accountable. As we look ahead, we are optimistic about the work the Biden-Harris Administration is doing to help entrepreneurs and urge Congress to take up the policies the president proposed to help our small business community. To maximize our economic recovery, we must seize opportunities to enact policies that help our small business community, which creates two-thirds of all new jobs and employs half of all workers, succeed. With the proper policies—addressing the cost of childcare, creating paid leave programs and bringing down healthcare and drug costs chief among them— in place, America's small businesses will flourish and lead our economy to prosperity. [Statement, 3/1/22]

Labor

Ray Curry, President, United Auto Workers: "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 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." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Jimmy Williams, President, IUPAT: "President Biden continued his strong advocacy for the working class tonight during his State of the Union Address. The President's focus on bread and butter issues for the IUPAT member, such as passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), expanding registered apprenticeship programs, and creating a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program are a breath of fresh air. And our union stands ready from coast to coast to work on projects which are funded by the historic infrastructure package recently signed into law by President Biden, the largest infrastructure bill passed in our nation's history. His determination to lower inflation, raise working standards, and give every worker the opportunity to join or form a union shows his strong commitment to creating an economy that works for all. Now is the time for the US Congress to do their job and get these bills to his desk. The President is echoing what IUPAT members have known for a long time: when we have an economy that works for working people, our nation thrives." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers: "Tonight, Joe Biden proved why Americans were right to elect him as president. He met a moment in history with gravity and empathy. He urged unity to recover from the immense economic challenges of the pandemic, with a laser focus on boosting wages and cutting costs to help American families recover and thrive. And he made the case against the threat posed by autocrats and those who excuse them, both here and abroad. Democracy and freedom are worth fighting for—as the Ukrainian people are showing us every day.The president laid out just how far we've come in a year—from closed schools, millions of COVID-19 cases and soaring unemployment, to record growth, jobs, vaccines and the return of reliable and safe in-person learning. But we are still dealing with the pandemic's terrible effects, and the president outlined a plan to curb prices, increase pay and create a better economy that puts American workmanship and creativity front and center and American workers first. We commend his specific, practical measures that would reduce costs for families right now, including child care, pre-K and prescription drugs. And we echo the need to take rapid action on climate change after yesterday's U.N. warning that the world is at a tipping point. Our members are on the frontlines of the pandemic, and we were honored to have progressive care unit nurse Refynd Duro of Ohio in the audience with the first lady tonight. Our healthcare heroes know what it will take to emerge stronger and healthier. The health, well-being and academic recovery of students is every teacher's priority, and the pandemic has multiplied the stresses and strains on us all. We share the president's concerns over the mental health crisis facing our young people, including the negative effects of unbridled social media because we live with the fallout every day. Our journey will be difficult, but our direction is clear. And with the president's leadership, now is the time to broaden the tent—to unify and organize for a better life for all Americans and to fight for and defend democracy, at home and around the world." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Chris Shelton, President, 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. 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. [Statement, 3/1/22]

Marc McManus, President, United Association: "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. 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." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Marc Perrone, President, UFCW: "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." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Service Employees International Union: "Members have fought to improve care & working conditions in nursing homes. @POTUS' plan to invest in home care and hold nursing homes accountable will help create good union jobs and be a game-changer for those who need care & workers that provide it. #SOTU" [Tweet, 3/1/22]

Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union: "From raising the minimum wage the making it easier for working people to come together in unions the @POTUS spoke on many issues important to @SEIU members and all of America's working people. We have a lot of work to do, but working people are fired up and ready for REAL change. The Senate must listen to @POTUS and pass historic investments in in our care economy and workforce, including home care jobs mostly held by women of color, and to address climate change affecting working families. #SOTU #StateoftheUnion" [Tweet, 3/1/22]

Greg Regan, President, TTD: "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." [Statement, 3/1/22]

AFSCME: "President Biden gets it: Building a strong economy that works for everyone means empowering working people and strengthening the labor movement. #1u #SOTU" [Tweet, 3/1/22]

AFSCME: "During tonight's State of the Union address, President Joe Biden cemented his place as one of the most pro-worker presidents in American history. #PassthePROAct #FreedomToNegotiateAct #SOTU" [Tweet, 3/1/22]

Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME: "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." [Statement, 3/1/22]

LiUNA: 'LIUNA couldn't agree more - the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is putting union members to work doing what we do best - building our communities. Let's #BuildBackBetter. Thank you @Potus #SOTU" [Tweet, 3/1/22]

TWU: "President @JoeBiden is delivering for workers on every front:
?The largest investment in transit EVER
?Holding AV companies accountable to our safety standards
?Fighting against outsourcing
The most pro-union President in generations is just getting started. #SOTU" [Tweet, 3/1/22]

Tom Conway, President, USW: ""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 health care 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." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Communication Workers of America: "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." [Statement, 3/1/22]

Robert Martinez, International President, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers: "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." [Statement, 3/1/22]

United Farm Workers: "Sí, se puede. Let's get it done." [Tweet, 3/1/22]

Becky Pringle, President, National Education Association: Tonight, President Biden rightfully called for full parity between physical and mental health care. Community schools act in that spirit, helping to meet students' mental health needs, especially in the wake of the trauma of the pandemic." [Tweet, 3/1/22]

"Students learn best when they're safe and supported—physically, mentally, emotionally. But for so many students struggling with their mental health, school and life are especially difficult now. Thank you, @POTUS, for committing to address our nation's mental health crisis." [Tweet, 3/1/22]

Eric Dean, President, Ironworkers: 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 America 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 a historic investment that will transform America'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, the Iron Workers have 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. The Iron Workers support 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 Americans, there is nothing we cannot accomplish." [Statement, 3/2/22]

Joseph R. Biden, WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Labor and Business Leaders Applaud President Biden's State of the Union Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/354733

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