Speech | Right to Work · Better Pay and Benefits

Trumka Kicks Off Labor 2018

St. Louis, Missouri

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka delivered the following remarks kicking off Labor 2018 at Laborers Local 42 in St. Louis: 

Brothers and sisters, it’s great to be back in Missouri!

Just about eight months ago, we came together in this great city for the AFL-CIO Convention. We declared to ourselves and the world that the labor movement is here to stay. We left St. Louis with a clear vision and mission based on one unmistakable truth: we are the change we’ve been looking for.

In the months since, the power of the labor movement has been on full display. Tens of thousands of new members have signed union cards. Countless young people are reaching for the rights and dignities that come with a collective bargaining agreement. We will never forget the images of teachers marching and chanting for the respect that they’ve earned. Collective action is on the rise. Journalists in the West. Teaching assistants in the North. Boeing mechanics in the South. And workers at Dollar General right here in Missouri!

Brothers and sisters, we have the power. We’re joining together, fighting together and winning together. And we’ve got to keep it up, because the next fight is coming quick.

The same people waging a corporate-funded assault on worker freedom at the Supreme Court have targeted Missouri for decades. You have the scars to prove it!

Let me be clear. Proposition A will lower wages, destroy jobs, increase poverty and make pay even less equal for working women. Above all, Prop A will undermine our collective voice on the issues important to our lives.

The corporate politicians want us to sit down and shut up. That’s why they moved the vote to August. They think we’ll stay home. Well I have news for them. This is the summer of workers. And we are going to prove the haters wrong by voting NO on August 7th. Let’s hit the doors today and tomorrow and the day after that. Talk to your friends and family! Pester your neighbors. We defeated right to work in 1978. And we’re going to defeat it again in 2018!

A victory in August can help set the table for a pro-worker wave this fall.

Today, in communities across the country, we’re kicking off our Labor 2018 campaign. We’re unleashing the largest and most strategic member to member political program in our history, sparking change by doing what organizers do best: talking to each other.

Street-by-street and person-by-person, we’re having conversations about the issues that matter most. Higher wages, better benefits, time off, a secure retirement and a fair return on our labor. And by starting now and putting our agenda first, we’ll be able to cut through the television ad blitz and political noise of October and November.

Each of you are on the front lines of a revolution—a revolution of working people fighting for our fair share of the prosperity we built—a movement demanding what we deserve!

That’s how we win elections. We’ve done it in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and California and Wisconsin and Virginia. Missouri is next!

But, it won’t just happen. We need you. Every single one of you.

We have the chance to take our country back. To truly make America great.

We can build a nation where union members fill the halls of power…where we earn a fair wage for a full day’s work...where there are more pro-labor Republicans and fewer corporate Democrats…where politicians rally alongside the labor movement instead of cowering behind Wall Street...where we assert our value and power as working people!

Because this is our land. We make this country run. We’re teachers and steelworkers, nurses and coal miners, firefighters and letter carriers.

WE are the American labor movement, the people who built this country into the most prosperous nation the world has ever known. And, we ain’t done yet.

We’re marching forward. We’re fighting back. This is our moment. And if we stick together, no one has a chance in hell of stopping us.

Thank you! Let’s do this!

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