Speech | Workplace Health and Safety · Civil Rights · Labor Law · Infrastructure · Better Pay and Benefits · Manufacturing

Trumka: Love of Workers Has Defined Joe Biden's Life

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka delivered the following remarks at a Labor Day Facebook Live with Vice President Joe Biden: 

Good afternoon and happy Labor Day! I’m Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

Vice President Biden, thank you for spending your Labor Day with us. While I wish we were having this conversation in the same room, I’m grateful to Brother Rick Bloomingdale, Brother Frank Snyder and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO for hosting you and for their leadership in our shared home state.

Every day, the AFL-CIO’s 56 affiliated unions and 12.5 members stock the shelves, fight the fires, heal the sick and a whole lot more

We are not afraid of hard work. We always finish the job. And we’ll never give up on the country we love—the country unions built!

Yes, we've been told our time is up and we’ve been knocked down.

But in the face of corporate greed and political attacks… 

Amid a public health crisis, an economic freefall and systemic racism...

America’s labor movement has risen!

Coronavirus won’t defeat us. Unions will beat COVID-19! Gallup puts union approval at 65 percent, one of our best marks in more than a half century. 60 million workers would vote to join a union today if given the chance.

If we want that to happen, then it’s time to move heaven and earth to elect Joe Biden!

Joe is a proven champion for working people. I know from firsthand experience.

I experienced it five years ago when Joe and I marched together in Pittsburgh's Labor Day parade. The energy was palpable. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets. And Joe jogged the entire route! He not only wanted to shake as many hands as he could. He wanted to talk to as many people as he could. He wanted to hear as many stories as he could. Every employer should give every worker that level of respect.

The aspirations of working people fuel Joe. As a senator and vice president, he used his vote and his voice to advance our causes to fight for living wages and health care, civil rights and retirement security and safe jobs protected by OSHA and MSHA. 

And Joe never lost his core goodness. Not long after I was elected president of the AFL-CIO, I lost my mother.

One of the first calls I got was from Vice President Biden. He was there for me during a difficult time, as a friend and a brother. He knew what to say and how to listen. 

Because Joe is no stranger to grief. He’s lost a spouse and buried children. A few months after that parade, a few weeks after he lost his son Beau, I sat down with Joe for four hours. I saw the pain. I saw a man who loved his family and his country and didn't want to let either down. He wanted to serve both—and Joe Biden has.

He fulfilled the promise he made to his grandparents whenever he left their home in Scranton. Joe’s grandfather would tell him to “Keep the faith!” And his grandmother would yell back: “No, Joey, spread it—spread the faith!” 

Across America, working people have kept the faith. And this year, under impossible circumstances and in dire conditions, we’ve spread the faith, too.

But we can’t do it alone. We need a president who believes in the dignity of work, a president who has faith in us! 

That’s why Joe supports the PRO Act, which would create a fairer process for forming a union.

That’s why Joe supports the HEROES Act to protect our paychecks and pensions and public services in the midst of this deadly pandemic.

And that’s why he picked Kamala Harris to be his running mate, a champion of social, racial and economic justice and a lifelong friend of unions. 

Joe and Kamala understand this is NO time to go back to business as usual. 

Back to an economy marred by bad trade deals and harmful tax cuts that benefit the wealthy. 

Back to an economy fueled by inequality and indifference. 

Joe understands it’s time to make structural reforms and build back better!

To create millions of good-paying jobs—union jobs!

To rebuild our crumbling infrastructure!

To ensure the future is "Made in America" and union-made! 

And to finally have a plan to beat COVID-19 and rebuild our economy so it works for all of us. 

Joe knows workplace safety is more than a policy. It’s a promise to our loved ones that we will return home at the end of a hard day’s work. 

Joe Biden comprehends something Donald Trump never will: workers will never quit on America, and our president must never quit on workers!

Brothers, sisters and friends: I've known Joe Biden for 40 years. He's real. He loves his family. He loves our country. He loves workers. This is not a campaign posture. It is his life.

Joe and I grew up 300 miles apart in Pennsylvania. Our families were not rich, but we were given confidence that our generation could do better than the last. Today, we’re both proud grandfathers. Our grandchildren belong to a generation that believes in equality for everybody and the dignity of work. They deserve to be a part of a country that lives up to its founding promise that we are all created equal, endowed by God with certain unalienable rights, chief among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

Our choice in this election is between division, decline and darkness...or rebuilding America and restoring her promise! A country whose strength comes from unions and whose future depends on the strength of unions!

We’re powerful! We’re united! We’re writing America’s comeback story! And nothing and no one will stop us from electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Mr. Vice President, working people are ready to make hope and history rhyme! And we’re going to do it with you.

Take it away, Vice President Biden.