BALTIMORE (Reuters) - President Barack Obama had lunch at a Baltimore coffee shop on Thursday to promote proposals that would allow 43 million working Americans earn paid sick leave.
The paid leave initiatives are part of a series of proposals Obama is offering in the days leading up to his State of the Union address next Tuesday.
All of Obama's proposals are aimed at pressuring the Republican-led Congress to consider ways to boost the middle class, a group whose economic fortunes have not kept pace with recent growth in the U.S. economy.
"Now we have to make sure the economy is better for everyone," Obama said, sitting at a table at Charmington's cafe with Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski and three working women.
Obama called on Congress, as well as state and city governments, to pass legislation that would allow millions of workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick time a year.
He also proposed more than $2 billion in new funds to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave programs.
(Reporting By Steve Holland. Editing by Andre Grenon)