Trumka to AFL-CIO 2017 Convention on Politics: Our support must be based on issues

St. Louis, Missouri

Good morning brothers and sisters. 

I want to thank all of you that participated in yesterday's activities. 

In one afternoon, we demonstrated the scope and power of the labor movement.

Yesterday's right to work canvass and phone bank is a reminder of what we like to call "common sense economics."

It's the simple idea that the economy is not like the weather. 

It doesn't just happen to us. 

The economy is nothing but a set of rules. 

The rules are written by the men and women we elect.

Those rules decide the winners and the losers, and for nearly four decades, they've been written to ensure working people are the losers.

Policy is what shapes the economy, and too many of those policies have produced a windfall for the rich and the well-connected and doomed millions to compete for the scraps left over. 

Brothers and sisters, this must end. 

Our movement is the great equalizer in an otherwise cruel economy.

If the question is, how do we correct this rigged economy? 

The answer is simple: through strong unions and more bargaining power.

Over the next several hours, we are going to debate several important resolutions focused on rewriting the rules so they work for working people. 

And we are going to discuss how we use politics to help us get there. 

A number of weighty and challenging issues are on the docket today:

Health care: 

How do we continue to protect what we have but also win what we need?

Budget and taxes: 

How do we win investment and tax policies that put working people first?

Global organizing: 

How do we change the rules to lift up workers around the world?


How do we arm our movement with the structures and the power to build an economy that promotes broadly shared prosperity?

And finally, Wall Street: 

How do we ensure Wall Street serves Main Street, not the other way around? 

I will have more to say about this later. 

We're going to finish the morning with a debate about politics. 

I want to say a few words about that right now. 

Brothers and sisters, we have many champions in the Democratic Party. And we have a few good friends in the Republican Party. 

But the truth is this. 

The number of Republicans who support us has gone down. 

And the number of Democrats who disappoint us has gone up. 

That's why the labor movement must be an independent political voice. 

We will find hope and opportunity for millions of working people, not inside the major political parties, but inside our movement and our communities.

I don't care if you're a Democrat, a Republican, or anything in between...if you do right by us, we will do right by you. 

Our support must be based on issues --not personalities and certainly not party registration. 

As I said at the beginning, the economy is nothing but a set of rules. 

The men and women we elect write those rules --they believe either they are in office to elevate working people or they don't.

So let us elect candidates who share our vision.

Strong unions.

Raising wages.

Health care for all. 

Quality Public Education. 

Modern Infrastructure. 

American-made energy. 

Voting rights. 

Civil rights. 

Worker rights. 

Let us go into 2018 and 2020 as one united movement ready to boost worker champions no matter the letter next to their name. 

That's how we change the rules. 

That's how we build an economy that works for all of us. 

Thank you.