Obama visit cancelled
President Obama's visit to Maryland this afternoon has been cancelled. He is busy today with the U.S. response to the Haitian earthquake and talks with congressional leaders about health care legislation.
President Barack Obama figures to get a friendly greeting when he tours a business-labor training center in Maryland this afternoon.
But the visit to the Lanham facility, which will serve as a platform for Obama to pitch his green-energy jobs initiatives, comes against a backdrop of simmering union anger over the president's agenda and performance during his first year in office.
Our "patience is wearing thin," Chuck Graham, business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 26, writes in the new magazine published by the labor unit, which serves Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
In the piece, Graham describes himself as angry, disappointed and frustrated over being "strung along" by Obama.
"Where is the relief middle-class Americans were promised by the Obama campaign and our members of Congress leading up to the last elections? Where is the stimulus money that was supposed to create jobs and put Americans, especially our Local 26 members, to work?"
In a telephone interview, Graham said that about 1,500 of the local's 8,500 members are out of work. That translates into 17 percent unemployment, more than twice the Maryland jobless rate.
Graham is critical of Obama's "focus, perhaps obsession, with health care reform when American jobs are becoming extinct." He urges Democrats in Washington to concentrate first on finding decent jobs for those who want to work.
"President Obama and Congress, it's time that you start supporting those who supported you," Graham concludes.
Graham said he hopes that plans to build a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs in southern Maryland become a reality. That would mean over 500 jobs for members of his union and thousands for those in the building trades.
"I do need jobs for my members," he said. "That my job."
So, will Graham give Obama a piece of his mind and let him know exactly what he thinks when he meets him during the president's visit to the apprenticeship center for electricians in Prince George's County?
Uh, apparently not.
"I'm going to tell him he's doing a great job," said Graham.
He explained that Obama inherited a boatload of problems after eight years of Republican President George W. Bush.
Obama "was handed a job that--I wouldn't want to have to do it," said Graham. "He knows we need jobs. He's trying to create jobs."