Labor Leaders Push Obama for Second Stimulus Package

ABC News' Karen Travers reports:

In a meeting with President Obama today at the White House, top labor leaders pushed for a second stimulus package to create more jobs.

“Since the onset of the recession, this country has lost an astounding 6.5 million jobs and $14 trillion in wealth. We support the President's recovery and reinvestment program, and we believe it should be substantially reinforced with more stimulus, creating millions of good jobs that cannot be outsourced,” the National Labor Coordinating Committee (NLCC) said in a statement after the meeting.

A labor official said Obama did not commit to any future stimulus package.

The president met for approximately an hour this afternoon with more than a dozen labor leaders, including AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, SEIU President Andy Stern and Change to Win Chair Anna Burger.

Obama used his weekly address last Saturday to quell the calls for a second stimulus bill and said the Recovery Act “has worked as intended.”

“As I made clear at the time it was passed, the Recovery Act was not designed to work in four months – it was designed to work over two years,” he said in the address. “We must let it work the way it’s supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity.”

In an interview in Moscow last week with ABC News, Obama did not rule out a second stimulus, but expressed concerns for the deficit.

“Now, the question that some have argued is okay what next? Maybe you stop the freefall but you still have close to 10% unemployment, and you know this is something that we wrestle with constantly,” Obama said in an interview with Jake Tapper .

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis also joined the meeting, which focused on job creation, health care reform and the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would make it easier for workers to organize unions.

Obama reiterated his support for the legislation, according to a labor official.

In a statement after the meeting, the AFL-CIO’s Sweeney called the meeting a “critical opportunity” for the labor groups and the White House to discuss these issues.

"President Obama has always been a friend to the union movement, and the meeting emphasized his continued support on issues important to working people,” Sweeney said.

A labor official said the leaders conveyed their support for the including three key elements in a health care bill: an employee mandate, a public insurance option and no taxing of health care benefits.

There was no firm commitment from the White House on these issues and the message was familiar – Congress is still working on the legislation and the White House is not drawing lines in the sand at this point.

Full list of Participants: Change to Win Chair Anna Burger AFL-CIO President John Sweeney National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern United Food and Commercial Workers President Joe Hansen Laborers International Union of North America President Terry O’Sullivan International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Jim Hoffa American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Gerry McEntee American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten United Auto Workers Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Ed Hill Communication Workers of America President Larry Cohen American Rights at Work Chair David Bonior

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