"Labor is alive and well:" Union workers reflect on President Obama's Labor Day message in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- President Obama delivered a speech in Milwaukee on Monday, September 1st -- as part of Milwaukee's Laborfest celebration at Maier Festival Park. The visit served to energize the Democratic base in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Organizers say labor isn't dead in Wisconsin -- and President Obama helped to reinforce that message.

An estimated crowd of 6,000 gathered along Milwaukee's Lakefront to listen to what President Obama had to say. Perhaps the loudest applause came when President Obama declared: "America is on the move."

As union workers gathered on Labor Day to listen to President Obama speak at Maier Festival Park, there was renewed hope for Larry Nunley, the head of Local Lodge 1916 of the machinist union. He brought his whole family to the Summerfest grounds to hear President Obama speak.

"It`s time the country comes together in unity," Nunley said.

President Obama's approval rating is low in Wisconsin. In fact, the latest Marquette University Law School Poll shows voters are split. Only half of registered voters give the Commander-in-Chief a "thumbs up." The poll also shows a divide over Act 10 -- with 44 percent saying collective bargaining should be returned to public workers.

"Since the passing of Act 10, a lot of people feel labor is dead in Milwaukee. That`s not true. Labor is still together.  It`s an uphill battle," Nunley said.

It seems that others agree.

"With everything happening in Wisconsin, like Act 10, it`s important that we get back to supporting workers," Cathy Razner, who is a teacher said.

"The very fact that the President is here means that labor is alive and well," union worker Barbara Toles said.

Many also agree with comments President Obama made in Milwaukee Monday -- including his statement that the country is better off now compared to when he was first elected in 2008.

"It`s a slow haul right now - but like he said, we are getting there," a Laborfest attendee said.

Organizers say this is President Obama's third visit to Laborfest. He came as a senator in 2008, and again in 2010.

Not everyone was on hand Monday to show support.

"I'm unmotivated by it. I`m disappointed in what`s he`s done.  I`m disappointed in the direction our country is going and I think we need some change.  His policies are failing nationally and locally," Kris Bauman said.

Union leaders say they support Democratic candidate Mary Burke for governor. She was present at Laborfest -- meeting privately with President Obama. She did not speak with the media. Her spokesperson says that's because this was an official White House event, and not a campaign rally.

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