Obama Backs Michigan Unions Over 'Right To Work'

President Barack Obama traveled to Redford, Mich., on Monday to carry on his campaign to cut a budget deal with House Republicans that includes raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. He spoke to workers at a diesel facility.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama got out of Washington today. He visited a car plant this afternoon in Detroit. The president was there, in part, to talk jobs and to herald some good news for manufacturing in Michigan. But looming over today's visit, and over much of what Mr. Obama does these days, are the budget negotiations back in Washington.

We have two reports this hour, one from Capitol Hill and this from Ari Shapiro at the White House.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: President Obama started his Detroit visit by touring a Daimler production plant. This place is about to grow. The company announced this morning that it's investing more than $120 million in the factory and President Obama said that will translate to 115 more American jobs.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Soon you guys will be building all the key parts that go into powering a heavy duty truck all at the same facility. Nobody else in America's doing that. Nobody else in North America is doing that. And by putting everything together in one place, under one roof, Daimler engineers can design each part so it works better with the others.

SHAPIRO: Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing says this is a pretty new trend.

SCOTT PAUL: Recent experience has indicated that the best managing practices are when innovation and production are located at the same facility. You get a synergy that you don't when you're trying to innovate in the United States and produce an ocean away in China.

SHAPIRO: His organization is a business/labor partnership that promotes American manufacturing. Paul says Daimler's decision is a small step, but an important one.

PAUL: And let's be honest here, I mean, none of these decisions are going to create tens of thousands of jobs like they would have 30 or 40 years ago. Manufacturing is a much different animal. But every little bit makes a difference.

SHAPIRO: This visit also brought the president into a fight over a controversial labor bill that's working its way through Michigan's state house. Governor Rick Snyder supports the measure that would make it more difficult for unions to organize in Michigan. Snyder greeted the president in Detroit today. Mr. Obama, who relied heavily on union support in his campaign, said he opposes the bill. The crowd roared in approval.

OBAMA: These so-called right to work laws, they don't have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.

SHAPIRO: Finally, the president hit the theme that has been his number one talking point for weeks. He urged Congress to extend tax rates for middle class Americans. Yesterday, he and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House to negotiate in person over a fiscal cliff deal. Neither man's team offered any details of the conversation. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, the White House.

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