By: Anthony Speelman, Secretary Treasurer, UFCW Local 1500
As you know, the UFCW International Union has rejoined the AFL-CIO. This is a decision that we all support and look forward to great success as a united and dedicated labor movement. I want to share with you some inspiring comments made by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at the UFCW International Convention in Chicago this past August. I believe you will conclude, as I did, that the best days of the labor movement lie ahead of us.
“Brothers and sisters of the UFCW, history is being made here in Chicago. Our labor movement is growing stronger today. Brothers and sisters, the UFCW is a proud and powerful union, and Joe Hansen is a proud and principled leader. I'm proud -- damn proud -- that the letters U. F. C. W. will be on the wall in the entrance hall at the AFL-CIO.
On behalf of the 12 million working men and women of the affiliate unions of the AFL-CIO, I want to welcome you to the federation -- We're stronger together. Joe Hansen and I have been working together and standing together for a long time.
We fought side-by-side for Obamacare, and we'll keep fighting to make it better, and to make damn sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care. We fought side-by-side in the fiscal crisis, and to defend Social Security and Medicare, and we will fight for food stamps and other pieces of the social safety net, because we won't let the far right destroy America's moral center.
We fought for immigration reform, and we're not done, not until America has a true and workable path to citizenship for the millions of people who are American in every way but on paper. We stood together and won in our fight for a full National Labor Relations Board, and by damn, it feels good to win, and we're going to win again and again!
Sisters and brothers, we have done a lot of good work together, and we're going to do a lot more.
We stand together. We struggle together. And we're stronger together. Together, all of us, will transform the American labor movement into a forward-looking movement.
We have a common vision and shared values, and it starts with the belief that each of us, every one of us, if we play by the rules and work hard, if we do our part, can expect to build a decent life. That’s the American Dream. With that vision to unify us, we will take our country back, because working men and women make America run.
We staff the stores. We drive the taxis, teach the children, and build the roads. We're high-tech and low-tech, and everything in between. We answer the call. We rise to the task. We do what it takes, no matter the price. This is our America.
Brothers and sisters, America needs our labor movement now more than at any time since the Great Depression, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
You know the deal. You know how global free trade has emptied our factories and closed our mills. Plants that used to produce television sets for households around the world today only produce dry weeds in an empty parking lot. We all know the deal. As the good jobs left, all working families have suffered from financial insecurity. All except the CEOs, and the 1%, who have taken 84 percent of income gains since 1979
The far-right has used that insecurity to divide us against each other, to attack our public education, as if teachers and firefighters and nurses are somehow enemies of the state.They blame America's problems on public workers, and immigrants, and union workers.
We've all heard that. But it won’t work. Working people aren’t the problem. No matter where we were born, what we do, or what language we speak. We never have been the problem. We know the real problem is the corporate right-wing that replaced an economy built on good jobs, with one built on real estate bubbles and financial crashes.
We all know the real problem and we know who's going to solve it. We will solve the problems. Why? Because working people are the solution not the problem.
My friends, America’s workers, all workers, need a powerful labor movement and together we will build that movement. More and more people understand, and take seriously, the idea that we can stand together for a voice in our democracy, and stand together on the job for decent wages, workplace safety, health care, and retirement security.
We must recognize and applaud any elected leader who stands with working people, whatever their political party. We must look at all votes. We must look at all records.Working people will fight and vote and win for working people. No exceptions.
Nobody else can shape our vision and our values and our destiny. That responsibility is ours, and ours alone. Nobody else will transform our visions into reality. That will be the work of our own hands, working together with common purpose, and a united dream.
Sisters and brothers, there is no secret to success. No silver bullet. It’s not rocket science. It takes hard work. You’ve got to take it day by day, and always believe that what seems impossible can be possible, if we hold the absolute and certain belief that every worker, every single worker, deserves a voice on the job, and a chance to improve his or her life through collective action.
What we want is not too much to ask: A chance for a decent life, fair wages, health care, a secure retirement, education, a better life for our kids and grandkids, a voice in our workplaces, and our democracy for all of us.
We’ll stand for it. We’ll fight for it. We’ll stand together, with solidarity -- real solidarity -- the kind where your picket line is my picket line, and where we pick each other up when we fall, and we all march on together.
It’ll take time. It’ll take commitment. It’ll take struggle. Take nothing for granted. Not victory. And certainly not defeat.
But always, always, keep reaching. Keep fighting. Energize. Organize. Mobilize.
Those are the keys. That’s the strategy. We will never, never give up. We will always go forward. Together we will win, for our families, for each other, for our future, for our country.
That’s how we’ll go forward. That’s how we’ll win. Standing together! Fighting together! Organizing together! Voting together! Winning together!