Washington, D.C.

Good evening, everybody. I’m Rich Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. Welcome to the House of Labor. Thank you so much for being here.

Last week, when I watched this Congress get sworn in, I was filled with pride and hope.

The labor movement mobilized for our friends and allies in 2018, including each and every one of you.

It worked.

We elected more than 960 union members all across this great country.

Nancy Pelosi is holding the Speaker’s gavel once again.

And somewhere in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan and Scott Walker are starting an Ayn Rand book club.

A new Congress offers new beginnings. But unfortunately, you have inherited an unfair and unnecessary government lockout.

Every day, our federal employees wake up, go to work and serve our country with honor and distinction.

They carry out their oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

And too often, instead of heartfelt thanks, they get ridicule.

Their very livelihoods are used for cheap political stunts.

Earlier today, the labor movement and our allies rallied in front of this building and delivered a message so loud and so clear that it could be heard on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue: OPEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AT ONCE!

The House passed a bill. It’s time for the Senate to follow suit. And it’s time for President Trump to log off Twitter and put people back to work.  

Instead of building a wall, let’s rebuild our roads and bridges and schools and hospitals.

Let’s pass the Workers' Freedom to Negotiate Act, the most sweeping and aggressive labor law reform effort in decades. Thank you Congressman Bobby Scott, chairman of the House Education and LABOR Committee, for your leadership on this legislation. We’re asking all of you to sign on as cosponsors.

Let’s raise wages and strengthen unions and expand health care and secure retirement.

Let’s fix trade and immigration. And if we really feel the need to shut something down, why don’t we start with tax breaks for corporations?

I believe this Congress has the potential for greatness.

You are the best representation of America we’ve seen in a long, long time.

More women. More people of color. More LGBTQ members than ever before. And we even elected one of our great former staffers here at the AFL-CIO—Congressman Andy Levin of Michigan.

The 116th Congress is the group of public servants that can meet this moment of historic collective action with an agenda that delivers a brighter, fairer and more just future for all working people.

But first we must end this senseless and manufactured government lockout.

And there is no one more battle tested...more dedicated...more ready to deliver...than the Speaker of the House.

She’s our champion. And I’m proud to call her my friend.

Please welcome Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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