President Obama made a speech on Thursday at the small construction company M. Luis Construction in Rockville, Md. emphasizing how the government shutdown effects small businesses. He also voiced criticism of the House Republicans for causing the shutdown and called on Congress to end it. Obama criticized House Republicans by saying that they are simply not doing their jobs: "The American people elected their representatives to make their lives easier, not harder." According to Obama, the House Republicans shut down the government for not getting what they wanted without considering the effects on the American people and their businesses, making it a "reckless Republican shutdown."
Obama made an analogy to help explain how the House Republicans are not doing their jobs. Obama stated, "If a worker shut down a manufacturing plant, until they got what they wanted, they'd be fired." Many people have narrowly interpreted Obama's statement and view it as evidence that he supports neither labor strikes nor labor unions. The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the U.S., has been a big Obama supporter.
Those who view Obama's statement as anti-labor strike clearly do not understand what a strike is. Unions decide collectively whether to strike or not. One worker choosing to stop working, which is what Obama described, is not a strike. The plant would be justified in firing this worker. The message that Obama was trying to send is very clear when listening to him make the analogy. Workers at a manufacturing plant are paid to do their jobs and do them well, which means positively contributing to the business and looking out for fellow employees. Members of Congress are expected to do the same, which is doing what is best for the U.S. and its people. Obama used this analogy to call on members of Congress to do the jobs they have committed to, not offer commentary about labor unions and strikes.