September 3, 2012
Obama woos Ohio workers, Ryan hits N.C.
By Bryn Weese, Senior Washington Correspondent
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As Democrats gather for their convention here — perhaps the least union-friendly state in the country — President Barack Obama was in Ohio on Labour Day pleading with workers to support him anyway.
Only 2.9% of workers in North Carolina are unionized, the lowest proportion in the country, and it's also a right-to-work state, meaning unions can't force employees to join them.
Holding the Democratic National Convention here — a crucial swing state in November's election — has caused many big unions to curb their enthusiasm for the three-day fete.
The huge 12-million member American Federation of Labour, in fact, coughed up no major monetary donation at all for the party and other unions are also pulling back financial support.
That's in sharp contrast to the 2008 convention in Denver when unions accounted for five of the top 10 organizational donors and contributed $8.3 million.
Unions have been at odds with Obama over the years, recently blasting the White House for signing a free-trade deal with Colombia, a country they say has a history of locking up labour leaders.
And Obama also hasn't made any headway to raise the minimum wage, as he promised in 2008.
Still, he wants them on his side in November.
"We're on our way to our convention in Charlotte this week, but I wanted to stop here in Toledo to spend this day with you," Obama said in Toledo, Ohio, on Monday, which was Labour Day in the U.S. as well as Canada.
"It's a day that belongs to the working men and women of America -- teachers and factory workers, construction workers and students, and families and small business owners. And I know we've got some proud auto workers in the house helping to bring Toledo back."
In Greenville, N.C., Monday, Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan was hammering away at Obama, saying Americans are worse off now than they were four years ago.
Since their own convention last week in Tampa, Fla, Republicans have been attacking the president for hampering the economic recovery and making things worse for everyone, including workers.
"Every president since the Great Depression who asked Americans to give them a second term could say that you were better off today than you were four years ago, except for Jimmy Carter and for President Barack Obama," Ryan said. "The president can say a lot of things, and he will, but he can't tell you that you're better off."
The Democratic National Convention takes place this week, with Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden set to officially accept the party's nomination Thursday night.
Obama is campaigning in Ohio and Virginia, and visiting storm-ravaged Louisiana before making his way here Wednesday night.