Shuler: The State of America's Unions Is Strong

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks as prepared for the State of the Union for Union Members virtual event:

Thank you, Erika [Dinkel-Smith] for that kind introduction, and for your dedication and service to America’s working people.

Hello union family!

As you know, the AFL-CIO is the federation of 57 unions representing more than 12.5 million working people across every sector of our economy.

It’s great to be here today with Secretary [Marty] Walsh who has been such an incredible partner as we work to support and improve the lives of America’s working families. 

Working people have been through so much these past few years.

But President Biden and Vice President Harris and this entire administration continue to show us how committed they are in creating an economy with working people at the center.

It was great to hear President Biden reaffirm his commitment in last week’s State of the Union address. He talked about Made in America and passing the PRO Act. He said clearly “when a majority of Americans want to form a union, they shouldn’t be stopped.” 

And President Biden means what he says, and he’s right: the way to fix decades of rising inequality and stagnant wages is by investing in our country and our people through union jobs.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the president signing the American Rescue Plan. It was the lifeline our country desperately needed… economic relief for America’s businesses, workers and families. Pension relief for our incredible retirees. And expanded and accelerated vaccination efforts, allowing us to safely get back to work and school.

And after decades of neglect, this president turned the promise of infrastructure into a reality – a historic investment in our roads and bridges and transit and rail. Climate change mitigation. Clean drinking water and so much more. And the work of rebuilding our nation’s critical infrastructure will go to highly skilled and trained union professionals, thanks to President Biden’s executive order on Project Labor Agreements. 

President Biden knows we can’t stop now. 

His Building a Better America agenda has the investments we need to keep our country strong. Child care. Clean energy jobs. Lower prescription drug costs. First-of-their-kind penalties against employers who break the law when we try to organize. All right here in America.  The Biden agenda will revitalize our manufacturing sector and strengthen our supply chains … lowering prices and raising wages with family-supporting jobs for working people everywhere.

With the current administration on our side, we have unlimited potential right now to seize this moment to reimagine and rebuild an economy with workers at the center.

Just look at the Worker Organizing and Empowerment Task Force chaired by Vice President Harris with Secretary Walsh right by her side. They have already identified nearly 70 ways federal agencies can support the formation of unions!

This is the bold agenda working people voted for.

And not a moment too soon.

America’s workers are in motion. 

Coast to coast, workers are speaking out, standing up and demanding change… for better wages and working conditions… and a better future for our families.

And America’s workers are looking to unions as the vehicle to get to that better future. 

It’s up to us to organize workers in all sectors and we are… from Amazon to university research assistants… to Starbucks and video game developers! 

And together with the Biden-Harris administration, we’re going to keep mobilizing to pass the PRO Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act… so workers can organize freely and without fear…  and pass federal voting rights protections so we all can exercise our rights and have a say in the direction of this country. 

Work connects us all. And working people are the most powerful force for progress, at work, in our unions, in our economy and in our democracy. 
The state of America’s unions is strong. And there is no doubt in my mind that a year from now, under the continued leadership of the Biden administration, we will be even stronger.

Thank you.

And now I have the honor to introduce to you, our union brother, who has brought first-hand union experience to his job as our Secretary of Labor…he wakes up every morning thinking about how he can use his office to make life better for working people. He’s walked picket lines, helped settle strikes, worked the legislative and regulatory process on our behalf, and most importantly has the trust and confidence of President Biden. Please welcome, card carrying member of  Laborers’ Local 223 out of Boston, Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh.