‘KEEP YOUR PROMISES’ – US unions tell Obama

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American trade unions who campaigned for Barack Obama’s landslide election victory, yesterday told the new US president to keep his promises to working families.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andy Stern said in a statement: ‘Starting tonight, we will work with our elected leaders to establish a clear agenda to rebuild the middle class, fix our national healthcare system, give workers a stronger voice and hold every politician accountable for the promises made to the hardworking families of this nation who tonight have changed history.’

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President John J. Sweeney said: ‘Congratulations to everyone who poured blood, sweat and tears into this election.

‘You have won for working families a great opportunity, and a great responsibility.’

He added: ‘We are responsible for holding our elected leaders to the promises they made during their campaigns and providing the public support they need to make tough legislative choices on our behalf. . . .

‘Now we have to tackle the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

‘Hardworking families are losing jobs, homes, health care, retirement savings and hope. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been committed to rescuing Wall Street – but almost nothing has been done to rescue Main Street.

‘Resuscitating our economy is going to require a fresh partnership among government, business, communities and working families.

‘It will require immediate new stimulus efforts to jump-start our economy – restructuring mortgages to keep people in their homes, extending unemployment assistance for jobless workers, aiding states so they can continue to provide vital public services and putting a down payment on job-creating infrastructure investments.

He said it is necessary to ‘re-regulate our financial markets and reform America’s broken health care system so no one has to choose between food and medicine or between life-saving treatment and bankruptcy.

‘But no matter what else we do to put our economy back to work, we will not succeed unless we also restore workers’ freedom to bargain for a better life. To do that, we must enact the Employee Free Choice Act as the core of lasting economic recovery for working families.’

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said: ‘This is a great day – a historic day.

‘Now let’s get this country unified and working for regular, middle-class Americans again.

‘We elected a great man, but we can’t stop here because our real work starts now.’

• The US stock market’s Dow Jones Industrial Index fell by 121 points in morning trade on news the services industry had contracted.