In a truly amazing gaffe, President Obama said Thursday that workers should not have the right to go on strike from their jobs. The comments were made in a speech at a Rockville, Md., business while attacking Republicans over the government shutdown.
Obama scolded the Republicans for refusing to do the work they were sent to Washington to do. He then compared them to workers who refused to show up for work, arguing that they would be deservedly fired. He said:
If you [Republicans] are being disrespected, it is because of that attitude you got. That you deserve to get something for doing your job. Everybody here just does their job, right? If you are working here and in the middle of the day you just stopped and said, 'You know what? I want to get something, but I don't know exactly what I'm going to get. I'm just going to stop working until I got something. I'm going to shut down the whole plant until I get something,' You'd get fired, right? Because the deal is, you've already gotten hired. You've got a job. You are getting a paycheck. And so you also are getting the pride of doing a good job and contributing to a business and looking out for your co-workers. That is what you are getting. Well, it shouldn't be any different for a member of Congress.
The comments received applause and cheers from the audience.
The president, a former constitutional law lecturer, apparently did not grasp that what he was describing was a classic organized labor strike, long a federally protected action and a cornerstone of both workers' rights and the progressive movement.
The rights were first codified into law in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, one of most significant bills passed during President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. As the Department of Labor's official "Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act" poster states, employees have the right to "Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing."