Speech | Labor Law · Civil Rights

Shuler: Voting Rights and Labor Rights Are One

Washington, D.C.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks at a "Fighting for Our Vote" rally:

Thank you to the NAACP and ACLU. I’m honored to stand with voting rights champions here and all across our country...including...AFSCME President Lee Saunders…here with us…AFT President Randi Weingarten who is kicking it off in Cleveland...and NEA President Becky Pringle who is firing up Detroit. And thanks to Dyana Forester for her leadership of the Metro Washington Council.

On behalf of the AFL-CIO’s 12.5 million members...who fight for the rights of all working people. We are standing up...for voting rights...against racial discrimination and voter suppression. That means protecting the right to vote...expanding the right to vote…and making it easier to exercise the right to vote.

We need guaranteed early voting. We need mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes...in every community...in every state.We need safety measures and enforcement for voters and poll workers. And to protect our voting rights...we need to pass laws including the For the People Act...and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

I can still hear John Lewis telling that story about weathering a storm in his tin-roof house in Troy, Alabama. If you ever heard the Congressman speak you know it. He was with family...and through this storm...it felt like the house would uproot and blow away. But wherever the house lifted from its foundation...one corner, another corner...everyone in the house would stand together...running from side to side to hold it down. And John Lewis said, the wind may blow. The thunder may roll. The lightning may flash. But never...ever...leave the house. He said, we live in the same house. Black, white, all ages, faiths, genders. We are one people, one family, one house. 

Well, in our house...the House of Labor...voting rights and labor rights are one. Economic justice and racial justice go hand in hand. Together, we will continue standing against the storm that is trying to uproot our voting rights. We’re facing a FUNDAMENTAL ASSAULT by extremist lawmakers on our voting rights at the ballot box. And at the same time, corporations are using every union-busting tactic they can think of to deny workers’ rights to vote in their workplace to join a union. 

It’s not a coincidence. Where there are attacks on unions, there are attacks on voting rights. Because unions and voting rights put power behind our voices. And those attacks are targeted especially to hurt and disenfranchise people of color. But we won’t let racist efforts deny us our rights...freedom...or power. 

Like Congressman John Lewis said, the vote is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy...and we must use it.And in 2020, we did...we voted in record numbers. We elected the most pro-worker president and vice president in history. A pro-worker majority in the U.S. House and...thanks to organizers in Georgia...in the U.S. Senate.  

But a handful of anti-worker senators are using the filibuster to prevent the change we voted for. They’re using it to stop progress for voting rights...and worker empowerment. So there’s a clear choice...we’re not going to sideline the hopes, aspirations and representation of the American people. Instead, it’s time to sideline the filibuster...pass voter protection...pass the Richard Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Act.

This is about our voices. So we’re raising ours...today...and every day moving forward...to protect our voting rights...to defend democracy in the workplace and democracy at the ballot box.

And in 2022...we’re going to make sure we are heard...loud and clear.

Thank you all! 



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