for DNC Convention
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Contact: Amaya Tune or Josh Goldstein
AFL-CIO to Hold Labor Delegates Meeting in Charlotte
Washington, DC – The AFL-CIO will host a gathering for all labor delegates during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. The meeting will be an opportunity to talk about a working families’ agenda and the effort to elect candidates that will fight for an economy that works for all. AFL-CIO executive officers President Richard Trumka, Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler, and Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker will be in attendance.
Who: Labor Delegates
What: Labor Delegates DNC Convention Meeting
When: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. ET
Where: Hilton Charlotte Center City, Charlotte Hall, Charlotte, NC
Remarks of AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka
Labor Delegates Meeting--Democratic National Convention
Charlotte, North Carolina
September 4, 2012
Thank you, MaryBe [McMillan]. Thanks for all you and James do and that goes for all of you. It's great to be here with you.
And thank you especially to the delegates who spoke this morning. Quite frankly, I think you spoke for working people everywhere. We’re all feeling the urgency of this election – and this morning you can feel the momentum too.
Working family candidates are going to win on Election Day, sisters and brothers. And after the polls close—we're going to hold our elected leaders accountable, and build a movement for broadly shared prosperity.
You see, we're mobilizing for November 6, but we're focused on a more distant horizon. We're getting off defense! We’re ready to grow – and restore the rights of all people who work -- and make working men and women the national priority we should be!
That's why it’s good that we’re here in North Carolina, where union density is less than 3 percent -- the lowest in America. This is where we have to grow. The labor movement may be small here, but it’s punching above its weight -- and all of us should remember that working people in states like North Carolina need the benefits of collective bargaining every bit as much as anywhere else—they deserve respect for their work and the same fundamental freedom to bargain collectively on the job as any worker anywhere in America.
Brothers and sisters, now’s our chance to lift the torch for every working man and woman in America – every working person, whether they’re in a union or not.
Before I get any further along, I want to point out a few handouts you have on your chairs. We’re asking you to help us get these messages around – and we’re asking one designated coordinator from each state to take a package of these materials back to your state caucuses. One item you’ll see is a piece on what unions are about. It's the orange one called, "What's so good about unions anyway?" Everyone knows we raise wages and benefits for our members—but how many know what else we do – training, giving workers a voice, working together in our communities to balance the power of big corporations and build a fair economy? Talk to your fellow delegates. Let them know what unions do and who we are.
There's also a summary of the Workers Bill of Rights that came out of the Workers Stand for America Rally in Philadelphia last month. That rally was spearheaded by IBEW with other unions. It calls for five fundamental rights:
Five sacred, fundamental rights. But those aren’t the issues you heard coming out of the Republican convention last week!
You also have a set of policy recommendations from a new economic blueprint called “Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All,” developed by Prof. Jacob Hacker of Yale University. When candidates ask for an agenda that goes beyond sound bites, give them this. The full report outlines the path to shared prosperity that’s our vision for where America should be going.
And, finally, you'll see some Labor Day thank you postcards. As James Andrews told you, these are part of a Labor Day recognition program that encourages us all to say “thank you” for the work of someone we appreciate. It’s a simple way to lift up the work of someone you see every day. Lifting up work and workers is what we’re all about.
Brothers and sisters, we have a lot of work before all Americans can freely enjoy the rights I outlined in the Workers Bill of Rights.
Here at the Democratic National Convention we have an opportunity to broaden and deepen the impact of working families. But we’re not here to support leaders just because they have a D after their name -- And I won't be shy about saying that, both locally and nationally, our labor movement is supporting Republican as well as Democratic leaders.
But, right here, right now, we have a chance to stand with the leaders who champion working families. And we have a chance to build an independent labor movement, a real movement of working people prepared to lift up every leader who shares our values and our vision.
And the only way we gain the strength to make it happen is through solidarity, the connections that bind us together. That’s a lesson my father and grandfather taught me, and life proved it to me -- again and again. We’re strong because we trust one another. We’re strong because we care about each other – we care about others who haven’t had the same opportunities we have – about the next generation. We’re strong because we believe in shared responsibility.
Those are the values we share.
My friends, President Barack Obama shares our vision and our values. Here's a guy who believes in working people, who believes in dignity on the job, who believes that working together, all of us, together create America's wealth -- all of us deserve a chance to bargain for some of the wealth we create!
And we know this -- we know it’s our responsibility to work for jobs – for fairness – for equality; nobody’s going to hand it to us.
But I don’t want anyone here to ever forget what the president has done. Rescuing the auto industry. Wall Street reform. Historic steps toward health insurance reform. This summer President Obama called on Congress to bring good jobs home and extend tax cuts for the middle class – and end tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires — and guess what, the far-right and the 1% have pounded him relentlessly, day after day, ever since!
What’s the problem? If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the right-wing say we can’t pay for better schools and safe highways, if we can’t afford teachers and postal carriers, if we can’t keep our promises to public workers, well, we sure as hell can’t afford more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires!
Mitt Romney doesn’t know anything about responsibility. Hey, it was profitable for him to bleed companies, kill jobs, end pensions in bankruptcy court and then walk away with millions. What did he care? Call me old-fashioned -- but I believe it’s important to do the right thing!
Not Mitt. The last thing America needs is a self-serving, privatizing outsourcer like Mitt Romney who talks out of both sides of his mouth. Did I say “fact-challenged”? A self-serving, privatizing, fact-challenged outsourcer! Those aren’t our values! Mitt Romney even outsources his bank accounts!
And did you hear the union-bashing last week in Tampa? Speaker after speaker after speaker had the gall to stand up at the podium and praise the hard-working people who built this country – and then attack their freedom to join together to make things better at work and in America!
And let’s remember – Republicans weren’t always like this! It was President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a war hero and a Republican, who said: “Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice.”
Sisters and brothers, this year we've got every reason to go the extra mile in these elections. Never has there been a starker contrast in the choices facing us as a nation. We’re going to support working family candidates in Congress and state legislators and in governors’ races across America – and you’re going to lead the way!
We need every one of you to volunteer – go back and sign up to walk. We need you!
We have a vision, and we’re going to make it real because we all chip in—that’s shared responsibility. What we want is simple, the chance to work hard for a decent life, for health care, for a secure retirement, for a better life to our kids. That’s what we want right here in North Carolina, and in New York, and in Alabama and Arizona, and Colorado and California, and Michigan and Montana -- in every corner of this great nation!
We’ll stand together to get it, because we’re stronger together. United, we cannot and we will not be turned aside.
We’ll work for it, sisters and brothers. Each of us. Together. To bring out the best in America. To bring out the best in ourselves, and each other.
We know the meaning of work. We know what it takes to win. We’ve come too far to be turned back now. We won’t back down. We won’t back up. And we will not be denied!
Thank you. God bless you, God bless the work you do, and the work you will do!
Good evening, brothers and sisters. I’m Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. I’m a third-generation coal miner from Nemacolin, Pennsylvania.
I’m here on behalf of millions of people who do the work of America.
Last week, Mitt Romney told us that he and his friends built America – without any help from the rest of us.
Well, let me tell you, Mitt Romney doesn’t know a thing about hard work or responsibility.
We are the ones who built America. We are the ones who build it every single day – because it is our work that connects us all.
Look around this convention, at all the hard-working men and women who make this place run – the ones keeping us safe, serving our food, driving our buses, and cleaning up after the party’s over. When we go home tonight, the workers will be mopping and vacuuming, and picking up our trash.
So when you have a chance – thank a worker!
We know that every worker – here in North Carolina, just like in every state in this country, and every country in the world – deserves the right to organize and bargain collectively.
And the Democratic platform – unlike its counterpart in Tampa – makes crystal clear that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will fight to protect and strengthen this fundamental human right.
My friends, our country has a big job to do. We have to rebuild our middle class – together.
Our economy works best when it works for everyone, not just a select few. Our history teaches us that shared prosperity is the only kind that lasts.
In the 21st century global economy, prosperity requires leaders committed to creating good jobs by investing in our future—in our ports and roads and bridges and airports, in energy and telecommunications, and in our public schools. Leaders who are serious about rebuilding our manufacturing economy. Leaders like Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
We know that the wealthiest and most powerful among us, those who have benefited most in recent years, must do their part to help rebuild America.
Prosperity requires economic security. Working Americans will stand with leaders who protect and strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- not those who plan cuts to benefits working people have paid for, earned and are counting on.
Prosperity requires democracy—starting with the essential right of everyone in this great country to a voice, both in the ballot box and in the workplace. The right to solve problems together and to climb the ladder to the middle class the old-fashioned way, through hard work fairly rewarded.
President Obama and Vice President Biden have put the country on the right path—toward jobs and shared prosperity, despite the obstruction they faced from a dishonest, politically motivated, economically challenged Republican majority in Congress.
We face a choice in November: between division and decline, and unity and growth.
We love our country.
We built it.
We defend it.
We wake it up each morning.
We make it run, and
We put it to sleep each night.
Our country needs unity.
Our country needs leadership.
Our country needs Barack Obama!
We gathered to call public and media attention to how our politics, society and economy have been skewed beyond recognition -– geared almost entirely to the well-being of the richest while everyone else is left behind.
This is not acceptable in a nation that was built on generations of labor.
The event was timed to precede both the Republican and Democratic national conventions to make it clear we are broadcasting our message to both parties. A strong and prosperous America can’t be measured by the stock market or gross domestic product, but by economic opportunity and hope –- hope that our children and grandchildren will have the same shot at the American dream that we did.
We choose to assemble in Philadelphia because it is there that the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” changed the world. It is in Philadelphia that the Bill of Rights, the most practical enumeration of fundamental human values, was adopted. We choose Philadelphia because it is time for a second Bill of Rights, inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1944 proposed economic Bill of Rights.
As the Allies closed in on victory near the end of World War II, President Roosevelt laid out his vision of postwar America –– a nation where every American would be entitled to decent work, education, medical care and retirement security.
For a country rebounding from the worst effects of the Great Depression, it was an inspiring vision of an America committed to individual freedom and economic opportunity for all:
True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.
Today, Roosevelt’s call for true economic and individual freedom is more relevant than ever. Income inequality continues to grow by leaps and bounds, while wages continue their steep decline.
Access to a decent education continues to narrow. The average student loan debt load is growing bigger every year, while good jobs for new graduates are harder and harder to find.
At the same time, our democratic process has become warped beyond recognition by the rush of corporate cash in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that unleashed corporate money into electoral politics.
On Aug. 11 we called on working people from all walks of life to sign America’s Second Bill of Rights, which will be presented to delegates at the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Through media of every form, we will deliver the message to working families throughout America and put public officials on notice that working people are tired of being ignored.
We will not accomplish everything in one day or with one event, but we must start somewhere.
We hope you can join us –- If not in the streets of Philly, then on Twitter and Facebook, and in the months to come as we build a grassroots army to put this country back on the road toward economic opportunity for all.