Speech | Health Care · Quality Education

Trumka at AFT Rally: We're Ready For a Fight

Washington, District of Columbia

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today delivered the following remarks at an AFT rally opposing cuts to health care and education: 

Good afternoon, everybody! I’m Rich Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO!

It is great to be here!

Thank you, AFT, for organizing this event!

Thank you, Randi Weingarten, for your friendship and your leadership.

I also want to thank AFSCME President Lee Saunders and the Congressional champions who have joined us here today.  

But most of all, thanks to all of you! Because you called, because you wrote, because you stood up and spoke out, Mitch McConnell’s health care sham has been stopped dead in its tracks. You did that!

Today we’ve won an important fight, but the battle rages on. They’ll bring it up again, and again, and we’ll be right there to kill it every time! Because together, we are an unstoppable force. And if you think today’s victory feels good, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

All of us up here—all of you out there—and tens of millions of us all over America—we are a team.

We look out for each other. That’s what the labor movement is all about.

How many teachers do we have here today?

Let’s hear it for our teachers. Each and every one of you are heroes. You lift our children up. You keep our communities strong. You make our country go.

Now, since this is a teach in, I decided to put together a short lesson plan for Republican leaders in Congress.

Lesson 1: Kicking people off insurance and cutting taxes for rich people is not a health care plan. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from workers to Wall Street and we oppose it in any form!

Lesson 2: Great countries don’t cut billions of dollars from public education. Remember, a budget is more than a set of numbers. It’s a statement of our values. So what does it say when we treat our teachers and students as a line item? America deserves better!

Lesson 3: When you bring policies forward that give workers more freedom to provide for our families, we’ll help you pass them with the same strength and intensity we are using to stop this health care sham! We don’t want to be playing defense. Give us something to fight for!  

And that brings me to our final lesson: If you continue down the path of trickle down—of health care for the few—of union busting and school vouchers—of corporate handouts and a race to the bottom—we will remember in November.

Either work with us or we will elect someone who will.

We’re ready for a fight. Our opponents are bold. But we’re bolder. They’re strong. But we’re stronger.

We’re locking arms. We’re pushing forward. This is our day. This is our time. We are the American labor movement and we will not be denied!

Thank you, all. God bless you!

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