The AFL-CIO today hosted a million-member tele-town hall, bringing together union members across the country to talk about the powerful and growing energy of the labor movement. Led by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the event also featured former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, as well as Seattle City Council member and Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) union member Teresa Mosqueda and Charlotte City Council member and Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union member Braxton Winston, who discussed their advocacy for working families and the importance of electing union members to office. Highlights from the event are included below.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
As we prepare to come together with our families and celebrate Labor Day this weekend, I’m as proud and hopeful about our movement as I’ve ever been. Something is happening in America, brothers and sisters. Workers are writing a comeback story unlike any I’ve seen in my 50 years in the labor movement....And here’s the truth: We’re not even close to done. 2018 is the year of the worker. We’re building a fairer economy and a more just society. We’re building a political system that listens to the voices of working people, instead of the whispers of a few CEOs.
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich:
The central answer is to strengthen unions. You on this call have the ability to do this. You're already doing this. You know that workers gain power when they come together. We saw this in Missouri with the repeal of "right to work." We've seen it in the teacher strikes. We're seeing it in the burst of union membership. We see it in public opinion, which is now solidly behind unions. [...] The nation is at a turning point. We just can't go on with almost all of the economic gains going to a handful at the top and most workers getting very little. Our economy can't survive this. Our politics can't survive it. Our society and our ideals of freedom and equal opportunity can't survive this, which is why you are so important—why unions are critical for the future.
Council member Teresa Mosqueda:
The reality is, the best way to protect workers in the labor movement is to elect more of us to office! Now, I am one of them. After years of saying, “No, not me, someone else should run”—last year, I said, “Yes.” And I ask you to think about doing the same. Because, who better to protect the right to organize than those of us who have organized new unions in the face of fear and intimidation?...Who better than us, as workers in the labor movement, to stand up and fight for workers’ rights? There is no one better than us. There is no one more qualified. We are ready, and we can win.
Council member Braxton Winston:
When I ran as a candidate and now as an elected official, I make it clear that I am a proud union member. I am a product of a union family. I was raised as the son of a New York City fireman and a New York City school teacher. So, I always knew the importance of a good, safe work environment with fair wages and a negotiated contract. [...] We have a commandment in our first collectively bargained agreement, our U.S. Constitution. In our preamble, it says that we must form a more perfect union for the collective United States of America. That means, to ensure that this great experiment in self-governance is successful, we all have to have a seat at the table.
Contact: John Weber (202) 637-5018