AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks as prepared to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's Worker Congress:
Thank you Dominique [Di Prima] for that wonderful introduction.
I’m so excited and honored to be included alongside all of these powerhouse women. The energy in this room is electric. And wasn’t that an amazing conversation between Lorena [Gonzalez] and Dr. [Angela] Davis?
And I’d like to thank Ron [Herrera] and the LA Fed for bringing us all together and inviting me to join you today. Congratulations to you and all of the LA County Officers on your new term.
It’s great to be in LA again. I was just here over the Super Bowl weekend in support of the NFLPA and to celebrate the organizing win at SoFi and the workers there. And to support the striking workers at Jon Donaire. And I saw many of you there too.
It has been inspiring right? Working people joining together, having each other’s backs… through thick and thin… and showing LA and California and the entire country the power of our unions.
Because workers are fed up. They’re exhausted and frustrated and for many of them, the pandemic was the tipping point. They’re tired of risking their health and safety for a crappy job and being told that they were “essential” one minute and expendable the next.
They’re burnt out. Tired of the unfair treatment and toxic environments and poor management.
And they’re looking to the labor movement and collective action as a vehicle for change.
And Los Angeles is showing us how it’s done.
Through strengthening our workplaces… like organizing the 17,000 research assistants in the UC system. That’s huge.
And through strengthening our communities… For decades the labor movement has been connecting working families in times of need to vital aid and services and the pandemic was no different… Food drives and vaccination clinics… housing and unemployment support and more… The Los Angeles labor movement has been at the forefront… empowering workers and empowering communities as we continue to recover from this crisis.
And we will be at the forefront in electing pro-worker candidates this fall… as you were in 2020… and you were a total game-changer in last year’s recall attempt.
The 2022 elections are upon us and we have been building out the framework for our political plan nationally and we know we have to approach it differently this time.
We are going to need to do some deep listening and get back to the basics. Reestablish credibility through face-to-face conversations, especially at worksites.
Those conversations will surface the issues that really matter to our members and then we can connect those issues to the candidates when it’s time to get out the vote.
And we already have plenty of things to talk about with our members.
The American Rescue Plan… the bipartisan infrastructure bill – those were huge victories.
It will put people to work across Southern California fixing roads and bridges, improving our ports and airports and water infrastructure, installing broadband and electric vehicle charging stations… and thousands upon thousands of good, union jobs for Angelenos.
We are still pushing Congress to Build a Better America, which includes getting a key piece of the PRO Act passed so employers who violate our right to organize are met with REAL consequences for breaking the law. And we have the opportunity to deliver that and so much more for working families.
Infrastructure is more than just roads and bridges and broadband. It is also health care and home care and education.
Because that new road or bridge isn’t so great if you can’t use it to get to work because you don’t have access to child care, elder care, dependent care.
We’re going to keep pushing to make sure quality, accessible child care remains a priority. So many people, mainly women, have been sidelined during the pandemic because they’re primary caregivers. The child care system in our country is badly broken and HAS to be fixed!!
This isn’t just a women’s issue. This is a family issue. This is a working person’s issue. This is a core economic issue. The pandemic made that clear. Most of the workers in the care economy are women of color – they’re doing the care work that makes all other jobs possible. That’s the bottom line.
We absolutely have to connect these victories back to our pro-worker administration and Congress… and our pro-worker governor and legislature.
Because there is so much misinformation and disinformation out there and it is dividing our country.
One America is being fed one set of information and the other America something else. It’s destabilizing. It’s divisive. And it is shaking the very foundation of our democracy.
But we are in a unique position… we can help close the information divide and heal our democracy.
We can be that trusted source of information.
We can cut through the noise with one-on-one, face-to-face conversations, and that will make all the difference.
Let’s be the difference makers.
Let’s keep the momentum rolling.
Let’s commit to reaching out to our members in new ways.
Let’s be bold and not be afraid to try new things.
Let’s wake up every morning thinking about organizing new workers and building the most dynamic, inclusive and modern movement to meet this moment!
And now it is my pleasure to introduce another national labor leader who cut his teeth right here in the LA Labor Movement
He grew up here in LA and realized his dream when he was hired by the LA Fire Department at the age of 19… and 30 years later when his schedule allows, he is still pulling shifts on the truck as a fire captain.
He is a proud vice president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and has worked his way through the ranks of the IAFF… as president of Fire Fighters Local 112 here in Los Angeles… to Vice President of the California Professional Fire Fighters, to 10th District Vice President of the IAFF, and last year, he was elected to serve as the General Secretary-Treasurer of the IAFF.
Sisters and brothers… please welcome a man who has dedicated his life to his family, firefighting and organized labor, our Brother… Frank Líma!