He said bills are rising for the elderly, but Social Security isn't covering their expenses.
Steep federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, are slated to take effect in January, including $11 billion in Medicare funding. Unless a bipartisan compromise is negotiated soon, the first round of cuts - about $110 billion - will take effect Jan. 2.
Combined with the expiration of federal income-tax cuts enacted in the early 2000s, the crisis is known as "the fiscal cliff." But labor leaders do not want any looming compromise to include spending cuts to important social programs.
"We need [Congress] to get together in the next couple of weeks [and] find a way to fix things without taking away our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They cannot do that," said Patrick Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO.
"They are not Congress people for themselves or for the rich. They are Congress people for everybody, for all America, Democrat and Republican, to protect Social Security," Brady said.
"Labor sent a message," said Brady about its overwhelming support for President Obama's re-election.
"Find a way to fix it; don't throw it away," Eiding said. He proposed ending the current lid on high-earners paying into Social Security so that "everybody who's working pays" to help solve any Social Security funding problems.
"We still need that extra leg to help us to retire and have a comfortable life. We're not looking for the world, just to be comfortable," said Paul Kelley, a member of the United Steel Workers.
"If you look at Dunkin' Donuts and other places, there's more and more older people working because they can't afford not to," Eiding said about retirees' need for the federal entitlement.
"Today's the day we start sending the message to the lame-duck Congress that we're here, we're not going away [and] we're going to support Bob Brady and all those other people who know how to take care of working people," Eiding said.
Contact Sara Khan at firstname.lastname@example.org.