WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama told union leaders Thursday that he will pursue economic policies that benefits workers if elected president, but he also will seek input from corporate leaders.
"The economy is not working the way it should be, and that's going to be the goal of an Obama presidency — to make sure we've got bottom-up economic growth instead of the kind of tired, worn-out, trickle-down ideologies we've been seeing for so many years," Obama said as he gathered with about three dozen leaders in a Capitol Hill hotel. Reporters were allowed in to cover his opening remarks.
Obama has been working to unite the labor movement behind his candidacy in a series of meetings during two days in Washington, including with some leaders who supported his primary rivals. The AFL-CIO, which had several member unions that backed other candidates, announced after a private meeting Wednesday that they will endorse Obama within weeks once its international leadership has a chance for a formal vote.
Obama said unions will be "a critical ingredient" in restoring fairness and prosperity to the economy, but he also made clear they wouldn't be the only ones with input.
"I'm going to meet with corporate CEOs sometime next week to hear from them about what they think we need to do to make the economy more competitive," he said. "But I want everybody here to understand the reason we wanted to organize this is that if our economy is not benefiting the average person ... then it's not doing its job.
"In fact, the economy, for big chucks of the last eight years, has actually grown," Obama said. "The problem is that all the benefits have gone to a handful of people and the vast majority has seen their actual income and wages go down effectively at the same time as the price of everything from gas to food has gone up."