Pelosi Delivers Address to AFL-CIO Industrial Unions Council
February 3, 2004
Washington, D.C.-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today addressed the AFL-CIO Industrial Unions Council on the crisis in manufacturing jobs loss:
"Rich Trumka, thank you for your kind introduction, but more importantly, for your great leadership, both as Chairman of the Industrial Union Council and as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Let's hear it for Richard Trumka.
"Let's hear it for the outstanding presidents of the IUC unions. Thank you all for fighting for American's working families. And thank you for fighting to end the union-busting, family-hurting, exporting jobs presidency of George W. Bush.
"We have a message for George Bush: America's families are hurting. And you are not helping. In fact, you are making it harder for American families to get ahead.
"Mr. President, now hear this: The State of the Union address you delivered two weeks ago was your last! Mr. President, the reckless budget you offered yesterday was your last budget assault on America's working families.
Tribute to Troops & Labor
"My friends, last night, I returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, where I expressed our nation's gratitude to our brave men and women in uniform, including our active duty troops, and National Guard and Reserves-so many of whom are patriotic union workers. So I thank you for your patriotism and I thank you for your service. Their noble service reminds us of our mission as a nation-to make a future worthy of their sacrifice.
"Today in seven Democratic presidential primaries across America, Americans are standing up for the future they want-for good jobs, for better health care, and the best education for their children.
"From the steelworkers and textile workers of South Carolina . . . to the auto workers and boilermakers of Missouri . . . from the oil and chemical workers of Oklahoma . . . to the miners of New Mexico . . . Americans are voting for change.
"After three years of seeing their jobs get shipped overseas, they are voting to send George Bush back to Texas.
You are the Cavalry
"I know Senator Daschle shares my view. You are the beautiful fight. You are the cavalry to take back the Hill. For the past two years, you as the IUC have been blowing the whistle about the crisis in manufacturing. This afternoon, when you, the cavalry, storm Capitol Hill for America's workers, everyone will know labor is in the house.
"And though our friends who are involved in the grocery strike in California cannot be with us here today, they are the face of the labor movement. They epitomize our fight. So thank you for standing in solidarity with our friends. And to the anti- corporations, we say: Hands off healthcare. We all stand behind the grocery workers.
"It's time for Republicans to stop treating America the way anti-union corporations treat their workers: Rewarding wealth over work, and putting profits before people. Trying to intimidate unions. And arbitrarily changing the rules at the expense of workers who play by the rules.
"This is the ultimate worker safety issue-Republicans are dangerous to America's workers. And we are here to say today: We are not going to take it anymore!
"This election matters because manufacturing matters.
"Manufacturing jobs matter to our country's economic security-every manufacturing job creates at least four other jobs.
"Manufacturing matters to our national security. We cannot ensure a strong military and protect the American homeland without a strong industrial and manufacturing base.
"And manufacturing matters to the financial security of millions of families because union wages can make the difference between living in poverty and living the American Dream.
"Last week, the Detroit News told the story of one of your brothers-Marc Strong, who worked at the Lear Seating company plant in Romulus, Michigan as a member of UAW Local 174.
"In late 2001, Marc and hundreds of his co-workers got the devastating news that so many union members have received: Their plant was closing and moving out of the country. They were losing their jobs.
"For more than two years, Marc looked for work. He and his wife had a baby on the way. Then his unemployment insurance ran out. He sent out dozens of resumes. For a while, he delivered pizza. The mortgages, medical bills, they all piled up.
"Now he and his wife are $170,000 in debt. They have filed for bankruptcy, and the bank is foreclosing on their home.
"Last month, Marc finally found a job-with a competitor of his old company. It's not a union job yet, but Marc and his co-workers are in negotiations . . . and it will be a union shop soon. As Marc said:
""This country was built on hard work. I know . . . it's cheaper to make [things] someplace else. But I deserve my chance [at] the American Dream. Someone has to stand up and do something for our country.""
"Those were Marc's words. But today, President Bush is destroying the American Dream for Marc and millions of workers. With his dangerous economic plan and distorted budget priorities, President Bush is undermining the values that define us our country - he is limiting opportunity, he is evading responsibility and he is destroying community.
Fighting for Manufacturing & Workers
"I am here today to say to Marc Strong and to all of you that Marc is right-all American workers deserve a chance at the American Dream. And I am here to say to you that Democrats are "standing up and doing something" for our country and fighting for you and your families.
"Democrats are fighting for fair trade. We demand our trade laws and economic leverage be used to level the playing field and open the foreign markets to the products that you make. We understand the importance of free markets.
"But we can never say it enough: free trade must be fair trade. That is why I have opposed unfair trade practices with China for nearly 20 years. And that is why I have repeatedly made it clear to the Bush Administration that I cannot support a Central American so-called Free Trade Agreement unless it includes basic and enforceable worker's rights protections. We must protect the rights of workers!
"Democrats are fighting for your jobs. President Bush has lost nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs in just three years. Yet in the State of the Union address, he happily declared that "jobs are on the rise."
"His evidence? In all of December, America's $10 trillion economy created a mere 1,000 jobs. Under President Clinton, Democrats helped create 22 million jobs. President Bush losing 3 million jobs, and cheering the creation of 1,000 a month, when under President Clinton 11,000 jobs were created every working day.
"Democrats are fighting to help those who have suffered the longest. Republicans have refused to extend unemployment insurance to the record number of Americans-more than 2 million-who are exhausting their unemployment benefits.
"Democrats are fighting for the Apollo project, which has been led by Leo Gerard. It will create good jobs, gain energy independence, and clean up the environment
"Democrats are fighting to revitalize the manufacturing base. Led by Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, Democrats are fighting for a bipartisan bill that focuses on those who need help the most-our manufacturing workers.
"Instead of helping special interests cheat the system and giving big corporations tax incentives to export jobs, Democrats propose tax breaks to keep American jobs in America.
"While President Bush cuts taxes for the wealthy, he is cutting overtime for 8 million workers-the overtime you need to put food on the table, to make ends meet, to buy a home and to send your children to college. Imagine that, tax cuts for the wealthiest, and cut overtime pay for workers. They just do not understand what it takes to make ends meet.
"And now the Bush Administration is actually advising companies on how to avoid paying overtime-and has the audacity to call it "payroll adjustment." We call it what it is-a pay cut for working families. And when Democrats are back in power, and that will be in about ten months, working families will get the overtime pay you deserve. We have to win the election to do that.
"Democrats are fighting to give workers a secure retirement. We are fighting to strengthen and protect pensions from corporate greed. We will not let the Republicans raid your pensions.
"Democrats are fighting for a real prescription drug benefit under Medicare. The Republican prescription drug bill was a cruel hoax that encourages employer-sponsored programs to drop retirees and that sets out to dismantle Medicare. Democrats have introduced legislation to dismantle this terrible bill.
"Finally, we are fighting to preserve the fundamental freedoms of America's workers. The right to form unions . . .the right to quality health care . the right to bargain collectively . . . the right to safe workplaces . . . the sanctity of the 40-hour workweek . . . these rights are non-negotiable. Democrats are fighting to pass Congressman George Miller's Employee Free Choice Act to restore the freedoms threatened by Republican rule.
"Democrats are fighting for you and your families. We are proud to stand with the AFL-CIO and the IUC in this fight. Thank you for the opportunity to be here, for coming to Capitol Hill, and for everything you do for America's working families.
"God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."