Friday, January 8, 2010

Remarks by AFL-CIO President Trumka, San Diego Jobs Rally

Remarks by Richard L. Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, San Diego Jobs Rally, San Diego, CA
January 06, 2010

Thank you, Art (Pulaski), for that introduction, and for your leadership in taking on the jobs crisis in California.

I am happy to be in San Diego on my first trip to California as president of the AFL-CIO.

California is Exhibit 1 of what’s happening across our country and I came here to listen and to learn.

What I’ve seen here this morning – as I sat with some of the hard-working people of this great city – people who through no fault of their own are without jobs -- is another grim reminder of the ever-present struggles of working families in this city … this state … this country … at this decisive moment in our history. It’s a reminder of the responsibilities born by our nation’s leaders – including our labor movement – to respond as never before to create a different kind of economy.

And I can tell you this: We cannot – and we will not – hesitate in fighting back.

And we will not turn away anyone who will work together with us to create an economy that recognizes and respects the lives and futures of the people of this great state.

The spirit and innovation and leadership I’ve seen here have affirmed my decision to come to San Diego – you’re an inspiration not just for our labor movement but for our entire country.

I’m really proud to join such a great bunch of leaders today — Art Pulaski, Tom Lemmon, Mickey Kasperian, Rabbi Coskey, Lorena Gonzales and City Council President Ben Hueso --- all of you committed to saving and creating the jobs we so desperately need.

Most of all, I’m proud to join all of YOU rallying together here today.

Jobs. It’s what it’s all about.

Good Jobs.

And they should be Local Jobs.

I love your T-Shirts ---- “Local Jobs” are the key.

You are leading the way with so many initiatives ---- YOUTHBUILD .... your CLC Jobs Agenda for 2010 ... your plans to adopt a programmatic Project Labor Agreement for the city.

Great work, San Diego!

And I know we can count on you for more.

On December 3rd, I was invited to President Obama’s Jobs Summit to deliver a message on behalf of America’s working families and our unions. Our message was that we need to take urgent action NOW to create jobs.

While our country is slowly beginning to recover from the recession, we can’t just sit around and hope for the best. Our jobs picture remains grim – and I don’t need to remind anybody here of that.

President Obama agreed with us and said we need to fundamentally rebuild our entire economy.

While Wall Street is busy cashing bonus checks, working families are living a nightmare of layoffs, mortgage foreclosures and personal bankruptcy ... and that, brothers and sisters, is totally unacceptable.

Congress also agrees with us and before the holiday recess, the House of Representatives passed a jobs package that will extend unemployment insurance, send more financial aid to state governments, and fund more important infrastructure projects ---roads, bridges, railways, school construction, water treatment projects.

The House bill isn’t big enough to resolve the jobs crisis, but it’s a good first step and we have to convince the Senate to pass it now.

The AFL-CIO has adopted a five point plan to add urgency at all levels of government.

First, we have to extend the lifeline to the unemployed — the unemployment benefits, food assistance, COBRA benefits that help people deal with layoffs and the chaos they create.

Second, we have to pump more money into rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in green technology. We have at least $2.2 trillion in this country in unmet infrastructure needs --- $2.2 trillion. More than one in four of our nation’s bridges are in bad shape .4,000 dams are deficient .30 percent of our schools are overcrowded and 3.5 million students attend schools where a building is in poor condition. Every dollar we spend employs workers all down the supply chain in construction, manufacturing, design and engineering – and ripples out into every sector.

We also have to increase our commitment to helping state and local governments, who are facing deep shortfalls like the one here in California — nationwide, we’re facing proposals for the layoffs of teachers, police and fire fighters – 2700 firefighters alone. An investment in state and local government will not only save jobs, it will maintain critical frontline services and avoid devastating damage to education.

It is equally important for us nationally to take a cue from what you are doing here in San Diego and fund jobs in our local communities — not replacements for current public jobs, but good new jobs to help address priorities in distressed communities.

Finally, we believe we have to put TARP to work for Main Street by using some of the leftover funds to create jobs by hiring community banks to lend money directly to small and medium-sized businesses. The bank bailout helped Wall Street and now we have to help Main Street --- without reservation … without delay.

These great needs present awesome opportunities -- if we can summon the resolve as a nation to rebuild our country and create the jobs we need in the process. Over the next few months, we’ll be asking international unions, local unions, and all of our state and local affiliates to help turn up the heat on government at every level.

And we must make sure American jobs are good jobs – that’s why the next step is fundamentally rebuilding our economy.

It’s why one of our most urgent priorities is restoring the freedom of every working person to join a union to bargain for a better life by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

And it’s why fights like the one you are waging at Doug Manchester’s Grand Hyatt are absolutely critical.

We know that when we make our voices heard, we get action — you are doing that here in San Diego ….

And we can do it all across our country if we do more of the hard work it takes to get our elected officials moving.

You’ve proven that when we work together, and stand together and fight together, we win together.

Let’s get busy and roll up our sleeves and get the job done.


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