Obama to speak to labor groups in Detroit

With jobs foremost on his agenda, President Obama will travel to Detroit on Sept. 5 to address tens of thousands of union workers during an annual Labor Day parade.

Organized labor has expressed frustration with Obama recently, citing failure of legislation aimed at making it easier for workers to organize and the president’s support for free-trade agreements.

But Saundra Williams, president of Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, said her group welcomes Obama, saying the city is thankful for the administration’s support of the auto industry.

“We’re very pleased he selected Detroit out of all the places he could go,” Williams said. “We’d like to hear him speak about jobs. We are certainly pleased about what he did with the auto manufacturers, but we still need a little more.”

The White House has said the president will deliver a major speech shortly after Labor Day to detail new plans for job growth. However, that speech likely will not be delivered in Detroit.

Obama spoke for about 10 minutes at the Detroit labor parade during his 2008 campaign and an estimated 100,000 people showed up, Williams said. Though attendance is usually in the 50,000-60,000 range, she said she expected a far larger group again this year.

And Williams said Detroit labor groups plan to push hard for Obama in 2012.

“We’re starting early, already making plans,” she said. “We will be doing everything to turn out the vote and educate the members.”

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David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.

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