AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today delivered the following remarks at a rally to reopen the government:
Good afternoon, everyone. I’m Rich Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.
Brothers and sisters, the government of the United States of America has been shut down for 20 days. Twenty days! If it continues to Saturday, it will become the longest shutdown EVER.
And, let’s call this shutdown what it is. It’s a lockout. Hard-working American patriots are being locked out of their jobs for no other reason than the politics of fear. Shame on the Senate! Shame on the White House! This lockout must end, and it must end TODAY!
The House passed a bill. It’s time for Mitch McConnell and the Senate to do the same. That’s not a heavy lift. And, instead of going to the border for a photo op, President Trump should be on the Hill negotiating a deal to open the federal government and put people back to work!
This week is supposed to be payday for 800,000 federal employees and contractors IN EVERY SINGLE STATE. But, because of these ridiculous divide and distract political games, these workers will not be paid for their service. Let me ask you this: is work without pay okay?
These are men and women who took an oath to serve the public. They keep us safe. They care for the sick and the elderly. They help our veterans. And, in the case of a quarter of a million federal employees, they ARE veterans. These workers don’t do it for big bucks or notoriety. They serve because they care. They serve because they love America. And, they deserve to be paid on payday!
These are hard-working Americans, and they’re worried about how they’re going to be able to pay for the roof over their heads and put food on the table. They’re worried about how they’re going to survive.
You’re going to hear from a number of them today. Folks who are suffering...through no fault of their own and FOR NO GOOD REASON!
This lockout is yet another manufactured crisis cooked up by politicians looking to score political points, and American workers are FED UP. We’re tired of being pawns in a game. We’re tired of always being the ones who get hurt. And, we’re not going to take it anymore!
So, hear us loud and clear. Stop playing politics with our lives. End this lockout. Open the government. Do your job so we can do ours.
Until that happens, we will NOT sit down. We will NOT be silent. We will never stop standing up...and fighting...and marching for every single worker!
Because we serve America. We build the roads, bake the bread and lift the loads. We stand tall. We don’t run and hide. We wake our country up every single day. We tuck her into bed at night. We are the American labor movement, and we will not...we will not...be denied!