In an event on Facebook Live, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler had a conversation with five working people about the importance of the American Rescue Plan. President Trumka delivered the following opening remarks as prepared:
Good evening. I’m Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. And I want to thank you for tuning in.
We’re one year into this pandemic. And we’re still driving the buses and running the trains. We’re stocking the shelves and lifting the loads. We’re teaching the classes and caring for the sick.
We build America and defend it. We do America’s work.
We’ve held America together. Even as we’ve gotten sick on the job and lost our jobs. Even as we’ve lost loved ones—family members, union brothers and sisters and neighbors. Even as anti-worker politicians called us essential, but treated us like we’re disposable.
On Election Day, working people rose up. We rejected inaction and incompetence. And we voted for a Workers First Agenda. The hallmark of that is the PRO Act.
The PRO Act is bipartisan legislation that will finally—finally—allow workers to form a union freely and fairly.
President Joe Biden asked Congress to send it to his desk. The House passed it with Democratic and Republican votes. The PRO Act’s fate will be decided in the Senate.
For fifty years, we’ve been waiting for labor law reform. But it’s more than that.
It’s civil rights legislation. It's an economic stimulus. It’s our litmus test. We can—and we will—make the PRO Act the law of the land.
We know that’s well within our power because we mobilized for dire COVID-19 relief last year.
We marched on Capitol Hill. Car-caravaned through our communities. Assembled peacefully outside our lawmakers’ offices.
Two weeks ago, the pro-worker officials we elected passed the American Rescue Plan. And our good friend President Joe Biden signed it.
Make no mistake: the American Rescue Plan is union made.
The American Rescue Plan is relief for working people, not another bailout for big banks on Wall Street. And we did not accept crumbs off the end of the table this time.
Look what’s in there.
Payroll protection to keep us on the job and survival checks to put money in 85 percent of people’s pockets.
Support for our states, cities and towns—so we can preserve critical public services and honor the heroes who provide them.
Resources we need to ensure that kids and educators are safe in the classroom.
Relief for multiemployer pensions. That is vital for retirees who have been living in fear that their retirement benefits—benefits earned after a lifetime of hard work—will be gutted.
And it includes a 100 percent COBRA subsidy. No working person should have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for health care in a pandemic.
To borrow a quote from Joe Biden: this is a big deal. And unions made it happen.
The American Rescue Plan is going to cut child poverty in half. Studies show U.S. GDP will expand by 3.8 percent this year because of it.
But look, here’s the truth: no fact or figure can capture the significance of the American Rescue plan.
But working people can, and working people have to.
Tonight, workers will tell our stories. Share our dreams. And discuss what the American Rescue Plan means to us.
And with that, I want to introduce my co-host for this evening: AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler.