The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, September 14, 2012

Trumka pushes workers’ rights in convention speech

By The Building Tradesman

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (PAI) – AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, given a prime time speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention – even if only cable viewers and the delegates saw him – strongly pushed workers rights in his Sept. 5 speech.

“We know that every worker – here in North Carolina, just like in every state in

this country, and every country in the world – deserves the right to organize and bargain collectively,” he told the delegates, in a reference to Carolina’s ban on collective bargaining for state and local workers. The state’s anti-worker policies led building trades unions to largely stay away from the convention.

“And the Democratic platform – unlike its counterpart in Tampa – makes crystal clear that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will fight to protect and strengthen this fundamental human right,” Trumka declared.

Trumka was one of three union leaders to address the delegates during the 3-day conclave. SEIU President Mary Kay Henry used her speech to lace into GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, while UAW President Bob King told how the Democratic Obama administration helped retain the U.S.-based auto firms and jobs.

Trumka also touched on the economy’s turnaround under Obama, who inherited the deepening Great Recession from GOP predecessor George W. Bush. And Trumka took a jab at Romney, former CEO of Bain Capital, saying, “Romney doesn’t know a thing about hard work or responsibility.

“We are the ones who built America. We are the ones who build it every single day – because it is our work that connects us all,” Trumka said. But his big theme was workers’ rights, to vote for unions and to vote at the ballot box this fall, a dig at GOP state governments’ voter suppression laws.

“Prosperity requires democracy – starting with the essential right of everyone in this great country to a voice, both in the ballot box and in the workplace, the right to solve problems together and to climb the ladder to the middle class the old-fashioned way, through hard work fairly rewarded.

“President Obama and Vice President Biden have put the country on the right

path, toward jobs and shared prosperity, despite obstruction they faced from a dishon-est, politically motivated, economically challenged Republican majority in Congress. We face a choice in November : Between division and decline, and unity and growth.

“We love our country. We built it. We defend it. We wake it up each morning.
We make it run, and we put it to sleep each night. Our country needs unity. Our country needs leadership. Our country needs Barack Obama!” Trumka concluded.