Remarks of AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, Massachusetts Labor 2012 Campaign Meeting

Boston, Massachusetts–(ENEWSPF)–September 24, 2012. 

Thank you, Steve [Tolman], for your introduction. And thanks to you and Lou Mandarini for inviting me to Boston. It’s an honor to be here. I’m proud to be campaigning with you to build power for working people and to make Elizabeth Warren the next United States Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts! 

Steve, my friend, I want to thank you for your leadership.  For being tough.  Compassionate.  Unapologetic.  And always, always working for fairness for people who work. 

Steve, my brother, you understand that all work has dignity — all work matters. 

In our world today, far too many elites, people like Mitt Romney, think half the nation just doesn’t matter. We’ve heard what they say behind closed doors. People like Mitt Romney think the people who work hard for too little don’t matter too much. 

But let me tell you something.  We all matter!  We all matter!  All of us!

And let me tell you about those 47% Mitt Romney says he’s not going to concern himself with – they include active duty service men and women in Afghanistan!  Seniors checking their bank accounts day-to-day living on Social Security!  Jobless moms and dads doing all they can to keep their families afloat!  Students!

In this world today, some people say working people are greedy for wanting a decent life and a secure retirement, jobless workers are blamed for being fired, homeless families are blamed for the foreclosure crisis, all while out-of-control corporations and millionaires and billionaires are applauded, thanked and appreciated for always wanting more, for not being satisfied with record profits and the lowest tax rates since World War II.

Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, in today’s crazy world, we need more working people willing to stand up and say, “Let’s take our country back – We have had enough!” We need more working people who’ll stand up and speak out for candidates who’ll make a difference. Because elections matter.

We may not have as much money as Mitt Romney and his friends, but the ballot box doesn’t care about that. Democracy is better than that. Our forefathers had a plan to fix that. We all have one vote. One vote! On Election Day, billionaires and you and me — we all have the same say. 

And together, if we use our voice and our vote, we’ll take our country back! 

You’re doing the hard work of reclaiming our country right now — so all of us can have a better chance, and I want to thank you for it. 

My friends, the New England labor movement is tough and resourceful. First class! Each and every one of you, right down to your core. I’m glad you do what you do. I’m glad you are what you are. And I salute you all. 

Times are changing in the Northeast, in New England and right here in Massachusetts. 

Not too long ago, Democrats won majorities comfortably, working people only had to show up at a few rallies, hold up some signs and get to the polls. Not too long ago, it didn’t hurt so badly when Republicans won some races, because, hey, they differed one from the next, and most of them held some respect for working people. 

That’s not the case anymore. And that’s a problem. Listen, I have nothing against Republicans. For years and years, we’ve been able to work with members of both parties. 

Not anymore. 

The Republican who’s running for governor of New Hampshire has promised to sign a right-to-work-for-less law on his first day in office.  If you have members in New Hampshire, reach out to them about our candidate for Governor Maggie Hasson! 

We’ve got politicians who used to be okay, but who have literally been pushed out of their party. 

Other politicians — like Scott Brown — have changed their colors to blend in with the right-wing foliage in Washington. 

We have a problem in Massachusetts. 

We have a problem in New England. 

We have a problem because some working people in Massachusetts have stood silently on the sidelines while Elizabeth Warren has campaigned hard to represent the Bay State. 

We have a problem because some voters—and let me be perfectly honest, I’m talking about voters who look just like me—have not stood up beside Elizabeth Warren to support her. 

Listen to me closely. I’ve said before that there are dozens of good reasons to vote for Barack Obama and one bad reason not to—and that’s because he’s black. Now hear me about Elizabeth Warren. There may be dozens of good reasons for us to vote for her, but it’s crazy not to vote for her because she’s a woman, or because she’s a college professor, or for any other superficial reason. 

The other bad reason to vote against her is because Scott Brown comes across like the guy some of you supported years ago, who served in the State House and the Senate. Let me be perfectly frank with you– that’s not the Scott Brown who’s serving in Washington today.  The new Scott Brown votes every time with the one percent and the Tea Party. 

This is serious, because the election hangs in the balance. You will make the difference. You have the responsibility today to have this tough conversation with your members—to educate your members—and I know you’ve started already, because the numbers are beginning to move in the right direction, but we’ve got a long ways to go and not a lot of time to get there. 

At the end of the day, we’d better be honest about it. We’ve got to ask ourselves: What do we want? 

Do we want jobs? Do we want to be back at the worksite, back at the plant, back on the construction site earning a good living?  Because Elizabeth Warren will fight for PLAs. She’ll fight to revive American manufacturing. She’ll fight for education and smart investments. She’ll fight for Davis-Bacon. She’ll fight for funding for infrastructure, and she’ll do it every single day! 

What would we rather have? 

Do we want a buddy who’ll pat us on the back? Who wears a Bruins jersey with the boys? Or a leader who will fight for our right to form unions and bargain for a better life? 

Do we want just another Wall Street lawmaker — bought and sold? Or do we want someone who’s so much more even than a champion of Wall Street reform? We’re talking about the person who visualized and campaigned for a new federal agency to protect you and me, to protect Main Street from Wall Street and prevent a repeat of the financial meltdown that threw millions and millions of workers out of the job market in 2008. Elizabeth Warren is the champion of working people, and we have the power to put her in Washington! 

You know, one thing I’ve learned in life is that when I’m trying to figure something out, when I’m trying to wade through a mess, I kind of back up and return to the basics. What am I but a third-generation coal miner from a small town in Pennsylvania? I am a product of my upbringing. What you see is what you get. And my town, Nemacolin, is like a lot of the towns all across America. It’s just another place that helps make up this great and prosperous land. 

Let me tell you, I’m proud of my hometown. And in that town I learned about respect and responsibility. And hard work. That’s what I learned from my family. 

Scott Brown thinks his pickup truck will make you forget that he votes against you and your family not once, not twice, but every single time. 

Scott Brown thinks he can win big by calling Elizabeth Warren an elitist. Why? Because she teaches college? Hell, she teaches college because she’s smart, and she works hard! 

I’m sick of it. Democrats aren’t perfect. Who is? Far from it. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Elizabeth Warren is an honest woman who’ll fight for working people. She’ll fight for your jobs. She’ll protect your pensions. She’ll fight to rebuild the American Dream. She’ll fight for your hometown and my hometown. And she’ll do it every single day! Every single day! I know she’ll do a damn good job. And that’s why I support her candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

Scott Brown won’t take on Wall Street. He’ll do Wall Street’s bidding. Scott Brown may pretend that he’s no Tea Partier, but don’t believe a word of it. Scott Brown is up to an old game. He’s trying to divide us to conquer us. 

Those aren’t the values I grew up with. Those aren’t our values. Those aren’t union values. And let me tell you, there are many, many reasons why you should not vote for Scott Brown, but the best one is that he’s the worst kind of hypocrite. He praises workers to our face and then stabs us in the back. 

Scott Brown voted for tax cuts for outsourcers. He blocked investments in America’s future. He voted against unemployment benefits for jobless workers. And listen to this, he claims he was a proud union member, but then he went to Washington and voted against Davis-Bacon, and he voted to deny workers the ability to organize and bargain for better wages. 

Listen, Scott Brown is no candidate for working families. Scott Brown is a fake and a fraud. He votes for policies that tear down the ladder to the middle class. He votes to tear apart our country instead of building it up. Massachusetts doesn’t need Scott Brown. Massachusetts needs to get rid of Scott Brown. Send him packing. 

It’s time we all stood up and said, Enough! 

It’s time—long past time—that working people everywhere stood up to take back America. 

With our voices and our actions, we are going to take it back. 

We will stand up for each and every worker trying to make ends meet on poverty wages, for every parent who works a second or a third job to give her kids a better life, for every teacher who digs into his own pocket to buy the school supplies that children need to succeed. 

We won’t rest until we reclaim our country — and our economy — for the people who make it work—because we’re the ones who wake America up every single morning, and tuck her into bed at night. We’re the ones who build the bridges and drive the buses. We answer the call. We fix it when it’s broke. We do what it takes, no matter what the cost. And we will take our country back! 

There is only one way that working people win at the ballot box, and that’s when we work hard. It’s when we lead by example. It’s when we put down the signs and hit the phone banks and get out knocking on the doors. 

We’ve got to fight for every single vote. We’ve got to talk to every member. Every single member.  And your neighbors. And your friends. We have operations running all over the state for the first time, and we’ve made progress, but like I said we’ve got a long ways to go. 

Listen, I’ve been talking about Elizabeth Warren, but I want you to know that there are important races up and down the ballot and across Massachusetts and New England. We’ve got fights on the ballot in New Hampshire that will decide whether that state joins the right-to-work-for-less column. 

We can win for working families, but only if we dig deep. We can’t get tired. We can’t lose heart. We’ve got to show up and fight for Joe Kennedy. We’ve got to stand up for John Tierney. And Bill Keating in Cape Cod for seniors and to protect Medicare and Social Security. And we’ll lift up the rest of the Massachusetts delegation, leaders like Steve Lynch from South Boston and Richie Neal from Western Mass. 

We’ll stand with these leaders because they’ll stand with us. Not only when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. Because that’s when it counts. 

We need solidarity, real solidarity, the kind where your problem is my problem, where my fight is your fight! 

Brothers and sisters, we’re building a movement to strengthen the American Dream. We’re building an honest-to-God working class movement, a movement for an economy that creates good jobs, a movement that honors the dignity of all workers and our fundamental freedoms every single day. The freedom to assemble, our freedom of speech, and our freedom to come together in unions to bargain for a better life. 

I’m talking about a movement with integrity, a movement for a nation that honors each of us, no matter who we are, or where we’re from. 

A movement for leaders we can depend on, and who share our values, and who will fight for our vision, by our side–rain or shine–to help us win a better America. 

An America that offers opportunity to every person who wants a job, an American built of responsibility and hard work and jobs—good jobs so people can raise a family if they want to and have a decent life. 

But to get it, we’ve got to work for it. 

We have to stand for it. 

We’ll fight for it, we’ll vote for it. 

And we’ll vote and we’ll win for Elizabeth Warren. We’ll win for Massachusetts. We’ll win for New Hampshire. And we’ll win four more years for President Barack Obama! 

We’ll bring out the best in our country – the best in ourselves. To build the future we know we can have–we must have–for each of us, for our children, for our grandchildren. And we will never, ever, give up, back up, or back down.