Charleston, South Carolina—(ENEWSPF)—November 1, 2015. On Saturday, Hillary Clinton attended an organizing event with Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and International Longshoreman Association Local 1422 President Ken Riley. Clinton proudly accepted the union’s endorsement, and is thankful for the ILA’s role in the maritime industry to bolster both the local and national economy. Clinton is committed to fighting for middle class families by raising the minimum wage, making college affordable and lowering health care costs.
Please see a full transcript of the remarks below:
HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you all so much. Thank you. Thank you all very much. Wow. Thank you. I really am just delighted to be here in Charleston with all of you, and to be introduced by two leaders. I don’t need to tell you what a great mayor Joe Riley has been for Charleston, but I do want to tell you that across America, he is viewed as one of the greatest mayors ever in our country, often called “America’s mayor.” And as he leaves office, I think we all understand what a difference he’s made and what he will continue to do, because he has a project of passion – the International African American Museum, to be built right here in Charleston.
“And I have no doubt that it will be yet another extraordinary accomplishment in Joe Riley’s long and distinguished life and career. And I also want to thank Ken Riley, the president of ILA Local 1422. I think that what Ken was telling me before we came on bears repeating: He was born and raised right here in Charleston, lives on the same block, and is committed to his members and to this community. And I think we need more leaders everywhere in our country who have that same level of caring and concern to build the economy so that it provides good, middle-class jobs for hardworking people like the ILA does.
“And what better evidence could you have than having heard from Georgette, who talked about what having a job with decent pay and decent benefits meant to her personally. I just thank her so much for coming up and telling her story, because it should remind all of us that the most important way that we can help each other pursue our own dreams and futures is to get the economy producing good-paying jobs with good benefits that are fair and just to those people who are working for a living.
“I’ve got to tell you, I have a lot of love for South Carolina. I’ve come here numerous times over the past, made some good friends, seen some beautiful sights. My first job out of law school was working for the Children’s Defense Fund, as Mayor Riley was saying, started and run by a phenomenal South Carolinian – Marian Wright Edelman from Bennettsville. And what she understood is that we needed an advocacy group that would help every kid get ahead, not just kids who already have all the benefits of privilege, but every kid. She knew that from her own upbringing, and how important it was for her parents to make sure that she and her siblings were well educated and well cared for. And she’s a friend and she’s a mentor, but the first place she sent me after I took the job was right here in South Carolina. And at that time, we were looking at the problems posed by putting juveniles into adult jails, and what that would mean to those kids and to their lives and to their potential for overcoming whatever their problems were. And that experience has stayed with me until today, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m a staunch advocate for reforming our criminal justice system and ending the era of mass incarceration.
“Last night I had the great privilege of speaking at the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner, the 98th year that the NAACP has been right here in Charleston. And I was so moved by the tribute that was made to the survivors of the terrible massacre at Mother Emanuel, and to the victims, as family members came forward and put a lighted candle on the table in the middle of the great banquet hall. I want to thank the people of Charleston for showing such grace and resilience in the face of such hatred, and I appreciate the way this community came together and spoke out about what the real values of us living together should be. That was a very special spirit, and I think it took America by the hand and helped many people across our country walk through the grief and bewilderment of what happened here.
“I think that we need to remember how we felt in the aftermath of that tragedy every day during the year, not just for the weeks immediately afterwards. Because one of the challenges that we need to confront is how we look at each other with respect, how we show empathy for the struggles that one another has, and how we build once again a country that truly does hold out the promise of the American dream to everybody.
“I’m here at this union headquarters because I believe strongly that the American labor movement, starting at the turn of the last century – 19th to 20th century, and moving through the 20th century – helped to build the middle class; it helped to provide the economic engine that raised incomes and raised hopes and lifted people out of poverty and gave them a chance to have a better life for themselves and their families. And I want to pay tribute to that.
“I know that it’s tough times in lots of places – for us to remember that it was unions that brought fair working conditions, better wages, that created what is an American and important human accomplishment, namely bargaining, having power in your workplace, to stand up for yourselves and your fellow workers. And this union and others like it have made America a stronger, more prosperous and more just and equitable country.
“I’m grateful for that, but I also see what’s happening as there is a concerted effort to undermine and eliminate the good work that unions have done. The defining economic challenge of our time is to raise incomes for working people, get them get them to reflect the hard work that people put in.
“Now, you know we had the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression with the so-called Great Recession. A lot of people forget how bad it was. I mean, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month; 9 million Americans lost their jobs; 5 million lost their homes; and $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out. I saw President-elect Obama shortly after the ’08 election when he called and asked me to come to Chicago to meet with him. I didn’t know why at the time; he wanted to ask me to be Secretary of State. But before we got into all that, it was just he and I and he said, “You know, it’s so much worse than they told us.” The economy was really under stress. We could have had a great depression, and it wasn’t easy to dig out of the big hole that the President inherited from his predecessor. And it’s important – – it’s important for people to remember that. I don’t care what political party you are.
“I want you to remember what President Obama faced when he came into office, the very first day, and how hard he had to work and how hard the American people had to work to dig us out of that big ditch we were in.
“So we’re standing now, but we’re not yet running. We’ve recovered 13 million jobs, but wages have not recovered. The average worker in America is still behind because the price of everything else has gone up. And there are a lot of things we have to do to build on the progress that President Obama made, and I intent to do that. And in the list of policies that I will promote as your president stands a strong commitment to supporting unions and the right to organize. And I will support collective bargaining.
“Now, it’s not just because I respect the work you do. It’s because if you go back to the founding of our country, one of the brilliant insights that our founders had is that you’ve got to balance power. If you’re going to keep a democracy and if you’re going to have a country as diverse and big as ours, grow together. So that’s why we have a balance of power, a separation of power in our government. We have three branches. We have two main political parties. Now, sometimes it can be frustrating but over the course of our history, it has worked out pretty well for us. But they also recognized and successive leaders of our country recognized that we need the same balance of power in our economy, and that’s one of the reasons why unions have to be at the table.
“That’s one of the reasons that I stand with the workers over at Boeing, who are being asked to stand up for themselves. They are fighting for the right to organize free from intimidation and harassment, because those rights are central to building the middle class. And we need to stand up to attacks on workers’ rights.
“Now, I know that here in this state, there is a big effort, led from the top but going throughout your government, to dismantle collective bargaining rights. You hear it all the time: South Carolina doesn’t need unions. I’ve got to tell you, you still have a lot of really poor people in South Carolina who need good jobs with rising wages and safe working conditions. And yes, I know South Carolina is a so-called right to work state, but you still should have the right to have somebody looking out for your best interests when it comes to your job.
“I also have on that list that we’re going to raise that minimum wage because it is a poverty wage that keeps people behind and down. And that is important to me for many reasons. I don’t think anybody in America who works full-time should still be living in poverty or trying to raise their kids in poverty. And two-thirds – two-thirds of all minimum wage workers are women. A lot of them, supporting themselves or single parents supporting their kids. And we’ve got to raise the federal minimum wage, because that should provide the benchmark by which states have to be measured. And we have to do away with something called the tipped wage. You ever hear of that? This is a provision in the minimum wage law that permits businesses to pay workers, mostly waitresses, bartenders, women working in hair salons – they can pay them as low as $2.13 an hour. Because the theory is they’re going to make it up in tips. Every study has shown that it’s only in rare cases that that actually happens. Because what often happens is that the money gets diverted; it doesn’t end up in the worker’s pocket, even though that’s what it was intended for. And so we have to do away with that. Everybody should have a decent wage if they are willing to work for a living.
“And I tell you, I am going to finally make sure that women get equal work for equal pay. Now, you would think that I wouldn’t have to stand up here in 2015 and say that, and that I wouldn’t provoke such a response from women and men in the audience. But the truth is you know it. We still don’t have it. Now, if you’re a member of a union and you’ve got set hourly wages or incomes that are key to the job you do, you get it. If you work for the government – I had a little girl at a town hall in Nevada that I called on say to me, “Well, if you were there girl president, will you get paid the same as the boy president?” (Laughter and applause.) I had to stop and think about it for a minute, but I believe the answer is yes. I met a young man in New Hampshire who said to me, “I want to tell you why I’m supporting you,” and I said, “Please,” and he said, “I’ll tell you.” He said, “My first real job” was when he was 17. He got a job as a cashier at a store where his mother had worked for four years as a cashier, and they knew the family and they gave this young man his first, as he said, real job. He was pretty excited. First pay period, he brings home his check and he’s showing his mother, and all of a sudden he sees this look on his mother’s face, and he goes, “Mom, what’s wrong?” She said, “Well, I’ll tell you what’s wrong. You’re making a dollar more an hour having just started than I’m making having worked four years.”
“So I think some people like to pretend that this is a problem behind us, that we’ve solved it. It isn’t. And this is not just a women’s issue; this is an economic issue, it’s a family support issue, it’s a fairness issue. And so when sometimes the Republicans accuse me of playing the gender card, I say, if standing up for equal pay for equal work is playing the gender card, deal me in because I am (inaudible) all the way.
“The bottom line is the facts speak for themselves. The economy does better when we have a Democrat in the White House. And just look at our last two Democratic presidents. I know both of them. America creates more jobs, unemployment is lower, deficits are smaller, and although my Republican friends hate it when I say this, recessions happen four times more likely when you have a Republican in the White House.
“So I am focused on the economy. I am not running for my husband’s third term or for Barack Obama’s third term; I’m running for my first term, but I’m going to do what works to raise wages and (inaudible).
“While we’re at it, let’s turn South Carolina blue. What do you think? Oh, all in good time. All in good time.
Now, there’s a lot more we have to do, and let me just quickly mention a few things.
“We’ve got to make sure education works for everybody, and I think that starts that starts with listening to teachers who are actually in the classrooms getting to know the children. It starts with better preparing kids so that when they get to school they can be successful. That’s why I am very much in favor of quality, early childhood education. And then, we have got to make college affordable again for middle-class and working families (inaudible). This is so important to me.
“How many of you ever had student debt? Okay. I did. I had student debt. It was a long time ago, but it didn’t break the bank for me. So what I want to do is make college more affordable, make it so if you go to a public college or university, you will not have to borrow a dime to pay tuition. And I agree with President Obama – community college should be free because it is the continuation of education after high school. And I want to make sure we have special funding set aside for single parents who start school and have a really hard time staying in and finishing. And for historically black colleges and universities that still turn out more black professionals than other colleges. And I’m going to make sure you can refinance your college debt. You can refinance your mortgage, your car payment; you ought to be able to refinance your college debt. And you’d end up saving thousands of dollars. And I don’t think our government should be making a profit on the money that young people and their families borrow to go to college. I don’t think that is right.
“Now, I also want to make sure that we defend the Affordable Care Act. It has made it possible for 18 million Americans to get health care. And I want to fix some of the problems that it has. We’ve got to preserve the foundation and defend it. The Republicans have voted 60 times to repeal it. They never tell you what they would put in its place, do they?
“They just say, “Repeal it and it’ll be so much better.” Well, here’s what I want to do. I want to get the cost of out-of-pocket expenses down. I want insurance companies to have to absorb the cost of three sick office visits so that you don’t use up your deductible. I want to make sure we get the cost of prescription drugs down because that is the biggest driver of increasing health care costs. And when I advocate that, the drug companies go, “Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, that’s going to really hurt us. It’s going to make it impossible for us to be able to do the research.” Well, I want you to look at the fine print, folks. The drug companies spend more money on advertising than they do on research. I actually think I’m going to be doing them a favor by removing the tax expense advantage they get for advertising so they can put more money into research and bring important drugs to market sooner.
“And I am going to do everything I can to reverse the reality today, which is that the American taxpayer pays the highest price for drugs than anybody in the world. Why? Because our tax dollars go to support the National Institutes of Health. I want to do more there, not less, because that’s where a lot of our discoveries come out of. Our tax dollars support the Federal Drug Administration – that’s great because they do the testing to determine whether the drugs are safe or not. And then, the drug companies negotiate for lower prices with everybody else in the world except us. So then we end up paying the highest prices in the world for the drugs we helped to support to be developed.
“Now, as a Senator from New York, if you look at the map, there’s a big swatch of New York that borders Canada. And I had a lot of constituents who every week would cross the border to buy the very same drugs they needed at much less of a cost, because Canada negotiated for lower prices. But because of the strength of the drug companies, Congress has never bucked them. Well, we’re going to make this a political voting issue. You’re going to with the patients and the consumers and the taxpayers of America, or you’re going to be with the drug companies. We’re going to get those costs down.
“So there’s a lot we have to do together, and we have to defend our basic rights: women’s rights, gay rights, voting rights, human rights. We have to defend them because if you go listen to the Republican debates, they’re after everybody. They’re – you’ve got to give them this: they’re equal opportunity insulters. Well, I think we have to defend women’s rights, particularly a woman’s right to choose. We have to defend – – we have to defend gay rights, because even though you can get married now – – in so much of our country, you can get married on Saturday and fired on Monday. We’ve got to have anti-discrimination laws so that people can live their lives.
“And we’ve got to protect voting rights. Think of what the civil rights generation did. Think of the costs and sacrifice they made. I was with Congressman John Lewis yesterday in Atlanta. He bled – he bled in the march in Selma to make sure people could register to vote. And now so many states are trying to pull back that right, that most fundamental right. I was in Alabama the other day, and they passed one of these really strict voter ID laws. And the said, well, one of the IDs you could use was your driver’s license. Okay. I think a lot of these laws are way overdone, but okay, driver’s license. And then the governor announces they’re closing the motor vehicle offices in the counties with the biggest black population. (Booing.) And when questioned about it, they said, “Oh, it’s just a budget thing.” And I told this big group of Alabama Democrats that I’d spent a lot of wonderful years in Arkansas and I learned a lot, and I learned one of my favorite sayings, which is if you find a turtle on a fencepost, it didn’t get there by accident. (Laughter and applause.) And think about it.
“So we’ve got to stand up for the most fundamental of our rights, and we’ve got to do everything we can, including if it takes a constitutional amendment, to reverse Citizens United, which is a corrupting, pernicious influence on our elections. And I also support comprehensive immigration reform. I’m going to keep working for that.
I am also adamant that we need to fix the problems in our VA system, but don’t let the Republicans try to privatize it and rip away the good parts of VA. Just like we have to defend Social Security and Medicare from their schemes to privatize it and end it as we know it. We’re not going to let that happen.
“And I am also advocating for commonsense gun safety measures. I think the path here is clear. I know it’s difficult, but a majority of Americans and a majority of gun owners – the majority of gun owners know this needs to be done. We need universal background checks. We need to close the gun show loophole. We need to have checks online so that people who can’t but a gun in person can’t buy it online. And we need to close what’s being called the Charleston loophole. You know what that is? Under the law we have, the Brady law, you can get your gun within three business days, whether or not the check on you has been finished. Now, as complicated as our country is and as complicated as our technology is, sometimes it’s not possible to find that information. Well, that disturbed young man who went and bought the gun that he used to kill those nine worshipers at Mother Emanuel church was not entitled to buy a gun, but they found that out right after he committed those murders. We’ve got to close that. I mean, why are you in such a hurry to buy not a hunting rifle, but a killing machine. And we also have to reverse the shield, the immunity shield that gun makers and sellers were given by the Congress, that removes any accountability. It’s the only industry in America that is immune from any kind of accountability.
“So I’m going to take this issue on. I’m going to try to do what I can to make it an issue that people really understand. And I’m looking for a lot of support from responsible gun owners. Because right now we’ve got 90 people dying a day from homicides, suicides, and accidents. Somehow a lot of people with guns have forgotten or never knew basic safety measures. My dad taught me to shoot – taught me to shoot behind our little vacation home up in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. I’ve been hunting. But my father would no more have allowed a loaded gun to be left lying around in our house than he would have jumped off the Empire State Building. And yet we have toddlers – toddlers – picking up loaded guns across America, killing each other, wounding a parent or a grandparent. There’s something deeply wrong when there has been such an abandonment of common sense. So we’ve got to protect our kids and our communities going forward.
“Now, I am thrilled to be here and I need your help, and I know that we’ve got a primary coming up which will be very important. And I hope each and every one of you will get involved in my campaign. If there are questions you have, please go to hillaryclinton.com and read what I am proposing in a wealth of areas that I think are important. And then volunteer some time. Be part of this because I want to run on an agenda that will actually tell voters what I will do when I get in office. I want you to know that. Because as Joe Riley and I were just talking about, as hard as a campaign is, the hard work starts when you’ve been elected. I want to be ready the day after that election, when we do, Joe, finally shatter that high and hard glass ceiling. So that I can go to work for you, I can fight for you, and together we will make sure America’s best days are ahead of us.
Thank you very much. God bless you.”