Obama to UAW delegates: You make me proud

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28:  U.S. President ...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Obama to UAW delegates: ‘You make me proud’
President says he placed his bet on American workers

It is hard to imagine that Washington’s Marriott Wardman Park Hotel could have ever accommodated more intensity and excitement in one room as more than 1,600 UAW Community Action Program (CAP) Legislative Conference delegates welcomed President Barack Obama to the podium Tuesday morning.

UAW delegates buzzed about the president’s visit from the time the conference opened until he appeared on stage at 11:25 a.m. Even on Monday night, hotel elevators carried anxious UAW delegates placing friendly wagers on who would be able to rise the earliest on Tuesday to snag a front-row seat to see him. It was the first time in recent memory that a sitting U.S. president has welcomed UAW delegates at the union’s legislative conference.

President Obama makes a point about saving auto jobs while Bob King and General Holiefield cheer him on. Photos by Joe Vermillion/UAW Local 602.
In his dapper black suit and red tie, Obama smiled and spoke to the crowd with an undeniable intimacy.
“Hello, autoworkers,” the president said as he greeted the crowd. “You are showing America what’s possible. So I’m here today to tell you one thing: You make me proud.”

And, by the thunderous applause it was easy to see how UAW delegates felt about the man who stepped in to make sure the nation’s auto industry did not flatline.

“Think of what you’ve fought through: job loss and financial crisis. We had to make a choice, and nobody would give you loans from the financial sector,” said the president. “You will recall there were some politicians who would let Detroit go bankrupt. If Detroit automakers went under, more than one million Americans would have lost their jobs, and there would have been another Great Depression in the Midwest.”

“I supported the auto industry because I placed my bet on the American worker. I believe in you,” said Obama. “It’s unions like yours that forged the middle class. You helped write the American story and are busy writing the next chapter.”

The president stressed to the delegates that working in the auto industry as a UAW member is more than just a way to make an income.

“These jobs are more than just a paycheck,” he said. “They’re a ticket to a middle-class life and to sending them [your children], yes, to college,” he said in a rebuttal to a recent snide remark from GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum that Obama’s hope that all American children will go to college someday makes him a “snob.”

Obama said not everyone agrees with his policies and decisions, but he didn’t run for president to be popular. “I did run to make the tough calls and to do the right thing,” he said, including standing up for the U.S. auto industry when it was on its knees in 2008.

Delegates had their cameras and tablets ready so they could post photos of the President.
Sticking up for the auto industry loans that eventually led to today’s resurgence of General Motors Co., which is now the world’s No. 1 automaker, and Chrysler Group LLC, which is the fastest-growing automaker in the United States, has reminded the country of what can be done when we work together.

Obama stressed that the rebounding domestic auto industry not only means they survived, but also that they’re thriving. He pointed out the quality work being done at specific UAW auto plants around the county, including those in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee.

“I’ve seen it myself. I’ve seen it at Chrysler’s Jefferson North Plant in Detroit, where a new shift of more than 1,000 workers came on two years ago, and another 1,000 are slated to come on next year,” he said. “I’ve seen it at Ford’s Chicago Assembly, where workers are building a new Explorer and selling it to dozens of countries around the world. I’ve seen at GM’s Lordstown plant in Ohio, where workers got their jobs back to build the Chevy Cobalt, and at GM’s Hamtramck plant in Detroit, where I got to get inside a brand-new Chevy Volt fresh off the line,” he said, as UAW members from each those plants stood up and cheered for their hometown workplaces.

When he’s not in the White House five years from now, the president said he plans to purchase his own Chevy Volt, not only because he supports America’s automakers, but also because he likes the car.

“I know our bet was a good one because I’ve seen the payoff first hand. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask the Chrysler workers near Kokomo, Ind., who were brought on to make sure the newest high-tech transmissions and fuel-efficient engines are made in America. Ask the GM workers in Spring Hill, Tenn., whose jobs were saved from being sent abroad. Ask the Ford workers in Kansas City coming on to make the F-150 – America’s best-selling truck – a more fuel-efficient truck. Ask the suppliers who are expanding and hiring, and the communities that rely on them if America’s investment in you was a good bet. Who knows, maybe the naysayers will finally come around and say that standing by American workers was the right thing to do,” he said.

“The same folks who said you can kiss the auto industry goodbye if you give them federal loans are now saying ‘we were right all along,’” said the president. “These same critics say it was payback to the unions. Really? Even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you-know-what,” said Obama as the audience cheered.

“All of you showed us what’s possible when we pull together. The economy is getting stronger,” he added.

The president also answered auto loan critics by pointing out a few American values that right-wing “values” proponents, he said, seem too often forget.

“They want to talk values? Values? Hard work, that’s a value. Looking out for one another, that’s a value. I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper, that’s a value,” said the president again to resounding applause.

UAW Local 696 member Vicki Johnson of GM’s SPO facility in Dayton, Ohio, was thrilled and honored to see the president.

“It was awesome, and I was inspired that he’ll be buying one of those cars in five years,” said Johnson, referring to the Chevy Volt promise.

Local 467’s Lenny Jernatowski: Understands shared sacrifice.
“What President Obama said was 100 percent correct,” said UAW Local 897 Retiree Chapter President Lenny Jernatowski of Buffalo, N.Y.

“I’m from Ford, and I understand what kind of shared sacrifice he meant,” he said, adding that it was Obama and the UAW that saved the auto industry and left his pension intact.

Local 467 Adolph Borrego: President is in touch with American workers.
UAW Local 467 President Adolph Borrego was in line at 5:30 a.m. so as soon as the doors opened at 6, he could get a good seat. And he did: He sat facing center stage, about five seats back. “There were already about 40 people in front of me,” he added.

“That was one of the most inspirational speeches I’ve ever heard,” said Borrego. “The president is very in touch with American workers, and the points he made shows how much passion he has for the people in the country who go to work every day to make this nation the very best.”

Sandra Davis and Joan Silvi
Chris Skelly contributed to this story. Published by the UAW.

the actual speech is here. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/29/1069467/-Me-President-Obama-IN-THE-SAME-ROOM-A-DailyKos-exclusive?via=stream

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: