Trumka to 2017 AFL-CIO Convention Close: We want to bust the doors to unionism wide open

St. Louis, Missouri

This morning we’ll focus on what it takes for working people to win together.

For the past four days, we’ve rolled out important actions focused on our future.

From infrastructure to manufacturing. From growing unions to rewriting the economic rules to securing justice and fairness for all.

All of this is important. All of it is close to my heart, and to yours. Today we’re going to talk about the thing that brings it all together: people.

As workers, we aren’t asking for the world. We want to go to work and come home safely at the end of the day. We want to be paid enough to support ourselves and our families. We want health care for when we get sick, time off to do with what we please, a schedule that is flexible and fair, and protection from discrimination. Finally, after decades of hard work, we want to retire with dignity and security.

We live in the richest country in the world at its richest point in history, yet too many of us are still working harder for less—the result of economic rules written of, by and for the wealthiest few. We can choose to do better.

Today we will offer a bold solution for restoring fairness and balance to our economy: The Workers’ Bill of Rights.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: inequality is not inevitable. Inequality is a choice—and it is a choice that too many politicians and special interests have made.

We can choose to do better. And a comprehensive bill of rights can help us get there.

The best way to raise wages, it’s really no contest at all, is when workers use our power to bargain with employers. Nothing else raises wages better or more fairly. Nothing else gives working people a chance at a secure retirement.

There has never been a more important time for workers to assert our collective power, because the balance of power has shifted away from working people for too long.

All workers, every single worker in America, should have a say in their pay and working conditions.

We want to bust the doors to unionism wide open!

That’s how we will start to close that gap between the too-rich and the rest of us. That’s how we will expand the economy, not with lousy jobs but with good jobs that sustain a family and elevate millions into the middle class.

Unionism works.

America is hungry for it—our adversaries know this, which is why they spend a fortune to stop us.

We’ll fight for it. We’ll stand for it. We’ll win it, brothers and sisters, because unions have never backed down from a good fight. It is what we were built to do.

We’ll lock arms, shoulder to shoulder, side by side. We’ll fight today, tomorrow, and we’ll stay at it, as long as it takes. We will not be denied!