Speech | Workplace Health and Safety · Infrastructure

Shuler: Kansas Labor Is with Working People Every Step of the Way

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler's remarks recorded for the Kansas AFL-CIO Convention:

Hello Kansas! I am honored to be with you—even though it’s by video.

Thank you so much Andy (Sanchez), Tony (Spicer), John (Nave) and the entire state fed team for your hard work and dedication.

Through the worst—ongoing—public health crisis in a century, Kansas labor keeps stepping up.

To all of you: thank you for your resilience and solidarity.

I’ve been walking the picket lines over the last month, and what I’m seeing is inspiring.

We have each other’s back.

Through thick and thin.

In rain and hail and high winds, we are out there holding down the line.

And we are showing the country that, through the power of our unions, we can stand up for better pay and safer working conditions—and we can win.

Nurses in Overland Park.

Steel workers at the Bradken components facility in Atchison.

BCTGM members at Frito-Lay in Topeka.

We refuse to go back to how things were before the pandemic.

But some of these corporations are trying to drag us back 100 years.

Frito-Lay had these what they called, “suicide shifts,” where you work eight hours—then forced to work four more hours—then you’re called in four hours early for your next shift.

The Kansas AFL-CIO was right there, every step of the way—you even held a PRO Act rally from the strike line.

And you’re standing strong with the UAW members on strike now against John Deere.

The entire labor movement and our community partners are leveraging our power to help them win.

Governor (Laura) Kelly has been such a steadfast pro-worker ally in Kansas.

Her leadership saved the state from the brink of bankruptcy.

She put the state back on solid financial footing so it could fund schools and the programs working people want.

And while we’ve heard so much talk over the years about infrastructure, the Biden–Harris administration, and pro-worker champions like Congresswoman (Sharice) Davids, delivered.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will bring $3.8 billion dollars to Kansas.

Billion with a B.

Investment in roads and rail

Governor Kelly’s State Transportation Plan, combined with these investments, positions Kansas to be a national transportation leader.

Kansas labor will repair bridges with American-made steel and iron.

With prevailing wages and high labor standards. Building and construction industries will keep growing.

Rural broadband will close the digital divide.

Manufacturing jobs will return home, reviving the Aerospace economy in Wichita.

And wind, solar, zero-emission transit, those clean energy sectors will keep booming and with the labor standards attached to these investments.

Union job training and apprenticeship programs will be the place that workers come to find new opportunities and bring in a whole new generation to the labor movement.

All of it adds up to a more competitive America, with workers—not corporations and hedge fund managers, but workers—at the center.

And good, union jobs in Kansas and all across America.

But we’re not done. Please keep raising your voices for Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act.

It’s a game-changer.

It includes a key piece of the PRO Act, with first-of-their-kind penalties for employers who violate our right to organize. So REAL consequences for breaking the law.

Plus investment in care infrastructure—child care, elder care, care for the differently abled—the critical infrastructure people need to be able to go to work.

Millions of people—mostly women—were sidelined by the pandemic to shoulder care responsibilities.

And right now, one in four women say they can’t go back to work because they still don’t have childcare.

So keep the pressure on.

Because the progress we make—as one united movement—lifts up every working person in this country.

That’s why we do this.

Keep going. Keep up the great work. I know you will and that’s why I am so hopeful for the future.

Thank you Kansas labor and have a great convention!