Speech | Civil Rights

Pres. Shuler's Speech at the 2023 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Award

Washington, D.C.

Good evening, everyone.

We’re thrilled to have you here tonight, in the House of Labor. I want to thank our team for their work to set up this event. Claude Cummings, thank you for CWA’s unwavering leadership on Filipino human rights issues.

The George Meany-Lane Kirkland Award has been given annually since 2000 in recognition of those across our movement who are fighting for fundamental human rights at work and in society.

Most of all, it’s about recognizing the very best qualities of our movement when we see them: Resilience. Persistence. Courage in the face of extreme difficulty, violence, and oppression. And above all a refusal to give up the righteous fight.

I can’t think of a group that has demonstrated those qualities more than the Filipino labor movement and the organizations here tonight.

This award is for ALU-TUCP—who saw their leader arrested under false drug charges, and yet held strong, and just weeks ago won a union vote at D’Luxe Bags after 10 years of struggle against Freedom of Association violations.

This is for SENTRO—who have overcome illegal terminations and suspensions and built RIDERS-SENTRO to organize app-based delivery workers, which has made headlines and changed lives with its many wins.

This is for FFW—who have been red-tagged, and seen their logistics workers face hostile anti-union trainings from the Department of Labor, and still found a way to organize!

This is for PSLINK—and every civilian employee with the Philippine National Police who persists in the face of harassment and red-tagging, along with the PSLINK nurses and caregivers who are still in the fight.

This is for ACT, which has been particularly targeted by the Vice President—and branded as armed rebels—and yet still fight, every single day, for the rights of educators.

And finally, this is for KMU and BIEN. Who have each lost one of their own heroic members in this fight. You have honored their memory, every day, by persisting, organizing and refusing to give in when it comes to our basic rights.

This is for Jude Fernandez and Alex Dolorosaf—who were murdered for being trade unionists. For standing up for the basic rights and dignity of their fellow workers.

Tonight should be a reminder and a message to everyone watching back home and all over the world: You are not alone in this fight.

It’s not only the U.S. labor movement that is with you. As we saw this week through your meetings with the United States Trade Representative, the State Department and the National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, members of this Administration stand with you.

I want to thank our ally, Ambassador Katherine Tai, for her work to make sure your issues are addressed. And I promise you tonight: We’ll do everything in our power to work with the Biden Administration to ensure your recommendations are heard and implemented.

The AFL-CIO—12.5 million workers strong—stands with you. The global labor movement stands with you. Together, we will win.

Thank you.

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