By Ross Colvin Ross Colvin – Fri Jan 30, 6:59 pm ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama pledged on Friday to reverse labor policies from his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, that unions have long contended favored employers over workers.
Obama, who won significant backing from trade unions in his Democratic presidential campaign, said there could not be a strong middle class, the focus of his economic recovery plan, without a strong labor movement.
He signed three executive orders to bolster unions in the workplace and strengthen workers' rights.
"I believe we have to reverse many of the policies toward organized labor that we have seen over the past eight years, policies with which I have sharply disagreed," Obama told a gathering at the White House.
"Labor is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution," he said to loud applause from an audience that included representatives of labor unions and business groups.
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