Pelosi Address to Building and Construction Trades Department
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Washington, D.C.-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today addressed several thousand members of the Building and Construction Trades Department, who were in Washington for their annual legislative conference on the urgent need for job creation and her support for a fully-funded, bipartisan transportation bill. Below are her remarks:
"Good morning. Edward Sullivan, thank you for your outstanding leadership on behalf of working families.
"Let's hear it for all the unions of the Building and Construction Trades. I want to extend a special welcome to those of you from California - the Bay Area Building Trades who welcomed me this morning and your great California President, Bob Balgenorth.
"Thank you all for fighting to defend the American Dream for working families. You are a beautiful sight. You are the cavalry coming to storm Capitol Hill for America's workers, to lead the charge for jobs: good jobs, high-paying jobs, jobs with health care benefits.
"In just three years, President Bush and Republicans in Congress have lost nearly 3 million jobs. And when it comes to job creation, they don't have a clue. Mr. President, outsourcing American jobs is not a 'good thing.' Making hamburgers does not count as a manufacturing job. And no matter how much you say it, your tax cuts for the wealthy few do not create jobs for working families.
"Democrats are fighting to create good jobs, instead of giving tax incentives to big corporations to export jobs. We propose tax breaks to keep American jobs in America. That is the proposal of the Democrats in Congress, and soon-to-be President John Kerry
"As House Democratic Leader, I thank you for making the fight for American jobs - for defending the dream.
"One of the best ways to create jobs - especially construction jobs - is to invest in our national infrastructure - mass transit, rails, and highways. Every $1 billion invested in transportation and infrastructure creates 47,500 new jobs.
"It is a good idea for many reasons. It enhances our homeland security by protecting our ports and waterways. Investing in transportation improves our quality of life by reducing gridlock. It promotes commerce and improves productivity by enabling us to move more products to market and people to work and school. And it helps the environment by reducing congestion and pollution.
"So what's the problem? The Senate has passed the bipartisan transportation bill. But what did President Bush do? He threatened a veto.
"It's amazing - the President wants to pass tax cut after tax cut for the wealthy few that will not create jobs . . . but he won't fully fund the one bill in Congress that will create jobs. If we can rebuild Iraq, we can rebuild America.
"A Democratic President, a Democratic Speaker, and a Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate would protect the prevailing wage. Again and again, Republicans have refused to vote on billions of dollars of infrastructure investments - for water treatment, railroads, and school construction because they oppose 70 years worth of Davis-Bacon provisions to pay the prevailing wage.
"Democrats are fighting for Davis-Bacon. We need your help storming the Hill to protect apprentice programs that the Bush Administration wants to weaken. Companies and contractors must understand - if your apprentice programs do not adhere to federal standards, you will not receive federal certification. It's that simple.
"Democrats are fighting to protect workers' overtime. While President Bush cuts taxes for the people making more than $1 million per year, he is cutting overtime for 8 million workers - the overtime they need to put food on the table, to buy a home and to send their children to college.
"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.
"Democrats are fighting for those who have suffered the longest in this 'jobless recovery.' Republicans refuse to extend unemployment insurance for the record number of Americans who are exhausting their unemployment benefits - an estimated 1 million workers by tomorrow.
"Instead, the Republican Congress is preparing to leave for a two-week break. Democrats will demand on the House floor today that Republicans do right by America's workers and not leave town without extending unemployment benefits. It's the right thing to do, both for working families and for the economy.
"Democrats are fighting for fair trade. We can never say it enough: free trade must be fair trade. That is why I have opposed unfair trade with China for more than 15 years. And that is why I will not support a Central American Free Trade Agreement unless it protects worker's rights.
"So many things are at risk with this Administration right now. Democrats are fighting to give workers a secure retirement. Democrats, led by your friends Congressman George Miller of California and Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, are fighting for a pension bill that strengthens and protects multi-employer pensions like yours. We will not let Republicans raid your pensions.
"Finally, we are fighting to preserve the fundamental freedoms of American workers. The right to form a union . . . the right to quality health care . the right to bargain collectively . . . the right to safe workplaces . . . the sanctity of the 40-hour workweek . . . these are non-negotiable.
"That is all in doubt under this Administration.
"Nearly four years ago, George W. Bush campaigned as a 'uniter.' Now, four years later, he's right - I have never seen Democrats and Labor so united as in our determination to send George Bush back to Texas.
"As House Democratic Leader, I pledge to you today: Never again. Never again will Democrats go into an election without being united behind a message that tells the American people who we are, what we stand for, and what we are going to fight for.
"And that begins with good jobs for American workers. Democrats will fight for what is important to America's families - a safe America with good jobs, better access to health care, the best possible education for our children, and a clean and healthy environment.
"We have a simple message for Republicans: it's time to stop rewarding wealth over work . . . and it's time to start creating jobs.
"Thank you for storming the Hill for America's workers."