Trumka to LCLAA Convention: We Are Waging the Fight for Democracy

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka delivered the following remarks via video to LCLAA's 23rd National Membership Convention in Las Vegas:

Good afternoon, LCLAA delegates and friends. 

Let me begin by thanking Sister Yanira.

It is an honor to be introduced by the first woman and the first immigrant to head LCLAA.

We all know Yanira’s fighting spirit. We all know LCLAA is cultivating the groundwork for an equitable and just recovery. 

So, it should come as no surprise that LCLAA has been on the forefront of some of our toughest battles, and has helped to deliver critical victories for working people.

To start, our work made Donald Trump a one-term president! And all our phone calls and door knocks elected the most pro-union president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

But this election season did not end in November. No! We regrouped and remobilized to keep the momentum going in Georgia. We defied the odds. We prevailed! 

Today, there is a pro-worker majority in the Senate. And we made that possible! 

LCLAA played a vital role expanding and diversifying the electorate.

And you did that despite massive and powerful forces seeking to snuff out the rights of working people, especially workers of color.

That’s because you refused to stay silent or stand down. Because of our tenacity, we have a generational opportunity to work with a pro-union president and a pro-worker Congress.

This is our time to take on issues critical to our lives and livelihoods. No more waiting. No more next time. This is our time.

And we’ve got to make this count.

It won’t be easy, but we’ve already gotten results. 

The American Rescue Plan was the most important piece of legislation passed since the New Deal. Think about it. That single piece of legislation is going to cut child poverty in half. That’s monumental. 

And the American Rescue Plan was just the opening round.

Now we need this Congress to pass the PRO Act to rewrite 100-year-old labor laws that are hurting working people, not helping us.

We need to deliver on infrastructure, protect our sacred voting rights and put working families on a long overdue path to citizenship.

When you boil it down, the fight we are waging today is the fight for democracy, which we all know has been under siege.

It’s not a coincidence that the opponents of democracy are also anti-worker politicians. 

The politicians who have spent decades dividing and weakening working people. Tearing us apart by race. Weakening social protection programs. And fighting our unions with everything they have.

Our message to them is simple: Your time is up.

Democracy must exist at the ballot box, and also in the workplace.

In the United States and countries around the world, working people are clamoring for:

  • Family-sustaining wages;
  • Benefits that meet the needs of the day;
  • Protections to stay safe on the job;
  • Racial and gender equity;
  • And a rebalancing of power so we can all share fairly in the wealth our work creates.

Together, we are going to keep winning policies that work for every worker with no exclusions—from the domestic worker to the gig worker, the teacher to the construction worker.

Now is our time to create a new economy that works for workers. All workers! 

Give us back our power and we’ll pull our country back from the brink.

The prescription to heal us and have a just and robust recovery is finally fixing the systems that have failed working people—whether they’re political, economic or social.

That’s why the labor movement has never been more important than we are today. And we have never been more ready for what we must do.

Change is coming to America. I can feel it. In elections won. In a labor movement that is growing more popular and powerful by the day.

But we can’t settle down or slow our roll. We can’t find comfort in the taste of victory. We must push ourselves and push our society forward.

In the coming years, when we look back on these days, let us be able to say we rebuilt our country and our democracy.

That we banded together to collectively bargain for working people today—and for generations to come.

That we returned power to the hands of the workers.

This is our time! This is our moment! 

WE are North America’s labor movement and we will not—WE WILL NOT—be denied! 

Thank you! God bless you! And stay safe!