Obama sends message to AFTRA delegates

Video statement delivered on Day 1 of national convention

Delegates at AFTRA's national convention in Chicago got an unexpected personal greeting Thursday from a heralded hometown son.

In a prerecorded video statement, President Barack Obama addressed the 240-plus delegates gathered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on the opening day of its biennial event.

"From the opinion makers in our news rooms to the performers and entertainers, whose talents add so much to the cultural life of our nation, the work you do is admirable and I honor you for your contributions," Obama said.

He added: "I also want to applaud you for what you do every day to represent folks all across news and entertainment industries fighting to ensure that people are safe at work and treated fairly at the workplace, that they have the health care and benefits they need and the chance to earn a decent living for their families."

AFTRA national president Roberta Reardon, AFTRA Chicago Local president Craig Dellimore, AFTRA Chicago Local executive director Eileen Willenborg and President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Dennis J. Gannon also spoke.

"Chicago has the great history of the stockyards, the buildings, and more, and labor has had a hand in it all," said Gannon. "As you know, President Barack Obama is connected to this city and when he was elected to the Senate he gave his speech right here in this very room. You are the faces and voices that carry our message to America, and that message is: We are as good as we are because we are united in solidarity."

Thursday night, the AFTRA Chicago Local also hosted a social at the Adler Planetarium, with dinner, dancing, a planetarium sky show and live music from Chicago Cats and bllues legend (and AFTRA member) Buddy Guy.