Speech | Right to Work

Trumka at Working People's Day of Action: Our Freedoms Will Endure

Philadelphia, PA

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka delivered the following remarks at the Working People's Day of Action:

Good morning. My name is Rich Trumka. I’m president of the AFL-CIO, and I’m honored to be with you today.

Brothers and sisters, take a look around! I see a powerful movement. I see a growing movement. I see a winning movement!

I see a movement of activists who stand up against the rich and powerful for basic freedom and dignity for regular people all across this country. When I look out at this crowd, I see solidarity. Your fight is my fight, and my fight is your fight. We are in this together, and we’re ready to rise together.

50 years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis, Tennessee, to stand with sanitation workers who wore signs saying, “I AM A MAN!”

Those brave and dignified workers wanted a union contract with good pay and benefits and safety on the job.

Today, we are fighting for those very same things. Dr. King gave his life for freedom… freedom from want, freedom from hate, freedom to vote and freedom to join together in strong unions. Dr. King lived and died for justice.

Like Dr. King, we will live for justice. We will organize for justice. We will march for justice. We will shout for justice. We will register for justice. And we’ll vote for justice.

Today, all around this country, working people are standing together to support the freedom of ALL workers to join unions.

The Janus case is nothing but a bald attempt by rich CEOS to use the highest court in the land to cut down our unions.

Hear me now, brothers and sisters: We won’t let them!

We’ll organize the old-fashioned way. Workers want a union. Workers need a union. Workers will fight for their union.

Workers like my Philadelphia sister, AFT member and school teacher Bonnee (pronounced Bonnie) Breese Brentum, who explains how she and her union fought to keep a nurse in every school after a child died of an asthma attack, how she and her union in a 100 ways negotiate for each other and the children and communities they serve. Bonnee’s not afraid of the right-wing attacks on unionism, but trust me… she’s fighting back!

Workers like Pennsylvania State Employees Association member Melanie Hudson, who recorded a powerful YouTube video about why she’s a union member. She’s a member because she wants a good life. Trust me. Sister Melanie is fighting back!

We’re all fighting back. Public and private. We are one union family and no one, I mean no one, pushes us around.

Our freedoms rise from the Constitution of the United States, which was signed not far from where we stand today. Our freedom gives us the foundation to be what we want and to join together and raise our voices together. And no matter which way the Supreme Court rules, our freedoms will endure!  

We’ll stand together against the rich and powerful for a better life for your family and my family and every working family. Because we do the work. We pave the streets. We drive the busses and walk the beats. We are working people. We won’t be shoved aside. We are the American labor movement, and we will not be denied!

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