AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave an inspiring speech to the Nevada State AFL-CIO's 60th Annual Constitutional Convention yesterday. Some key excerpts and reactions to the speech:
Listen, nobody needs to tell working people in this state about the union advantage. Collective bargaining transformed Las Vegas, and lifted up the entire entertainment industry. Across Nevada, each and every one of you continues to show us how unionism works. You do it in the building trades. You do it in our schools, hospitals, grocery stores, factories and too many places to name.
When we stand together, wages go up. Consumers have more money to spend. Employers feel competitive pressure to do better for their workers. That’s the strength of collective bargaining and collective action. We have the power to set off a race to the top.
We raise the bar in politics, too. When you and your members get onto the front lines, we build momentum for our issues and elect candidates who share our working family values....
Working people are winning the debate. Now it’s time to win some elections!
We can do it, if we stand together. We need each other. We need your mobilization and groundwork.
We know unity. We practice solidarity. When we stand together, no one can turn us aside.
We built the middle class once, and we’ll do it again.
We build the bridges and the factories. We bake the bread and serve it, too. We drive the rigs and carry the loads. We do it all. We do what it takes. We answer the call. We wake our country up every single day, and we tuck her into bed at night. We don’t mind hard work. We do it with pride. We won’t be faced down or pushed around, and we will NOT be denied....
If you want to know where Donald Trump really stands, ask the brave men and women at Trump Tower in Las Vegas. First, Trump hired a union-busting firm to discourage workers from organizing. The workers won anyway. Then, Trump refused to recognize the union. He dragged his feet. He filed an appeal. He did everything except bargain a first contract. Sisters and brothers, if you actively block our fundamental right to speak up together for better wages and benefits, you will never, ever, ever get our support.
Donald Trump is profoundly unfit to be president. That’s why on November 8th, 2016, working people are going to turn the tables, and tell him, “You’re fired!”...
It seems like yesterday I was in the backyard with my son when he was just 3 or 4 years old. His grandfather had gotten him one of those battery-operated Jeeps. He and his buddy, Chad, were driving around in the backyard.
I was out there too—talking on the phone about what else—the union. Rich must have overheard me, because he drove up and said: “Dad, what’s a union?”
So I told him to try to push his Jeep up the hill. He strained and struggled and eventually got stuck. Then I told his friend Chad to give him a hand. Working together, they were able to do it. I looked right at my son and said: “That’s a union.”
Today, working people are climbing up our own hill. Wages are still too low. Benefits are still too few. And the economic rules remain skewed toward the wealthy few.
We have the power to change that.