Shuler: Michigan Labor Is Showing the Union Difference

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks as prepared to the Michigan AFL-CIO Convention:

Hello Michigan!

I am honored to be with you—even by video.

Ron, I’m grateful for your dedication—thank you, to you, Daryl and the team for doing an incredible job leading the Michigan federation.

And to all of you, thank you for your resilience.

Our entire movement sees and feels the work Michigan labor does.

This pandemic has been devastating.

It’s pushed us to a breaking point.

We’ve endured through uncertainty and made incredible sacrifices.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me angry to see how corporations are taking advantage of our sacrifice, relentlessly pursuing profits, and we’re not going to take it anymore.

We’re not going to tolerate unfair and unsafe working conditions.

We are done with shrinking wages and benefits.

We were, are, and will always be essential.

And we deserve to be treated like it.

We deserve a fair share of the profits we create.

And every working person in this country deserves the life-changing power of a union.

This is our moment.

Workers are standing up and taking risks. People are reclaiming their power through their unions.

Like the BCTGM Local 3-G members in Battle Creek, who are on strike against Kellogg.

The Michigan AFL-CIO is providing organizing, communications, and monetary support.

And the entire labor movement has your back.

We are fighting back against outsourcing.

We’re standing strong for the American middle class.

We’re not letting corporations divide us.

We will not accept a two-tier system that hangs the next generation out to dry.

Tens of thousands of union members are taking action—there are 30 strikes happening in all parts of the country and across industries, right now.

Together, we are showing every working person in this country what’s possible.

As one united labor movement we are building pressure, growing power, and we are winning progress for working people.

Like the Michigan AFL-CIO’s Fair Maps Project, to make sure we have a fair redistricting process.

Just this month, UAW organized 350 new members at a ZF Plant in Marysville.

The Michigan Nurses Association recently organized technicians at UP Health System-Marquette, with 92% voting yes.

Because working people are looking at us and seeing the union difference.

That’s how we build a bold, dynamic and inclusive labor movement to meet this moment.

We are the counterforce to skyrocketing inequality.

To remove the barriers people face when they try to join a union—like the fear of getting fired—we need the PRO Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.

We also need investments in working people and our communities.

That’s why we fully support both the reconciliation and the bipartisan infrastructure bills.

These are the biggest investments in almost 100 years—in infrastructure—manufacturing—supply chains.

And it includes a key piece of the PRO Act: first-of-their-kind penalties for employers who violate our right to organize.

This is the kind of bold plan that puts workers at the center of policy and will help us recover from the pandemic and decades of neglect and under-investment.

Roads and bridges, airports and broadband, public transportation, railways and a modern electric grid.

Plus paid family and medical leave, child care investments and universal pre-k—because care is also critical infrastructure.

We need it for those sidelined by caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic.

And we need it to make sure care jobs are jobs with good benefits and wages.

This is our opportunity to create good, sustainable union jobs, revive American industries, and build back better in towns and local economies all over Michigan.

This is our moment.

There are game-changing opportunities on the table.

So are you ready to organize like never before, to reach out and grab it?

Workers out there are looking for hope and a better life.

Let’s show them they can find it with the labor movement in Michigan.

So keep it going.

Keep up the great work. Thank you and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

Have a great convention!