Obama Issues Orders Aimed at Aiding Unions

President Barack Obama signed several executive orders, got an enormous economic stimulus bill through Congress and outlined a plan for troop reduction in Iraq, as he shapes his agenda for the first 100 days in office.
By Philip Elliot
Associated Press
Saturday, January 31, 2009

President Obama signed a series of executive orders yesterday that he said should "level the playing field" for labor unions in their struggles with management.

Union officials say the new orders by Obama will undo Bush administration policies that favored employers over workers. The orders will:

· Require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.

· Reverse a Bush administration order requiring federal contractors to post notice that workers can limit their financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.

· Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.

"We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests," Obama said during a signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

"I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution," he said. "You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement."

Signing the executive orders was Obama's second overture to organized labor in as many days. On Thursday, he signed the first bill of his presidency, giving workers more time to sue for wage discrimination.

"It's a new day for workers," said James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who attended the ceremony with other union leaders. "We finally have a White House that is dedicated to working with us to rebuild our middle class. Hope for the American Dream is being restored."

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