Shuler: We Need Action to Protect Our Voting and Organizing Rights and with It, Our Democracy

Washington, D.C.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks as prepared at the Democracy For All press conference with labor leaders, civil rights leaders and Texas state lawmakers outside the House of Labor. Watch the press conference here.

Thank you, Representative Turner. Thank you to you and all of your colleagues for your courage and your determination. Hello, everyone.

It’s an honor to bring the voices of the 12.5 million working people in the AFL-CIO, all across our country and our economy who are standing up, fighting for the rights and dignity of all working people. 

As Rich and everyone have said, a year ago Saturday, we lost a giant.

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, voting rights and labor rights are one.

Economic justice and racial justice go hand in hand.

And today, we are standing together against the storm that is trying to uproot our rights, our freedoms, our very democracy.

We’re facing a fundamental assault by extremist lawmakers on voting rights at the ballot box. 

And at the same time, big corporations are using every tactic they can think of to bust unions and deny workers’ rights to vote in their workplaces to join a union.

It’s not a coincidence. Where there are attacks on unions, there are attacks on voting rights.

And these attacks are targeted especially to hurt and disenfranchise Black and brown people.

But we won’t let these racist, systematic 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.

In 2020, we did. We voted in record numbers. We elected the most pro-union President and Vice President. A pro-worker majority in the U.S. House.

And thanks to the relentless hard work of organizers in Georgia--two wins, which critics said were impossible--we also have a pro-worker majority in the U.S. Senate.
Those pro-labor champions delivered a rescue plan, including the largest child tax credit ever and historic relief for working families.

And now we need action to protect our voting and organizing rights and with it, our democracy.

It’s urgent. We can’t wait.

Today, and every day moving forward, we call on the Senate to pass the PRO Act, pass voter protection legislation and defend our rights and freedom to vote at the ballot box and in our workplaces.

That’s how, through this storm, we will protect our House where it stands on Black Lives Matter Plaza, and what it stands for: workers' rights. Economic and racial justice. The ongoing march that John Lewis took so very far, and that we are dedicated to continuing.

Thank you. Back to Rich, who will take questions.