By Jim McKay, USW Communications
With newly organized Los Angeles car wash workers at his side, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told delegates Wednesday that labor is done playing defense in the fight for jobs.
“We don’t have to settle for 9 percent unemployment, stagnant wages, benefit give-backs, record inequality and destruction of our middle-class way of life,’’ Trumka said. “This is America. We can do better. We have to do better.”
Trumka opened his speech by recognizing car wash workers who just won representation with USW Local 675 as part of an ongoing campaign to organize the hand car-wash industry in Los Angeles, where workers, often immigrants, are routinely underpaid and abused.
Fighting for the jobs that we must have to restart the nation’s economy will be another tough fight - a struggle Trumka said we cannot afford to lose.
The AFL-CIO, he said, will unveil this fall a sustained jobs campaign with a National Week of Action. The federation is planning some 450 nationwide events where middle-class Americans will demand politicians create jobs and restore the economy. An online petition will urge political leaders to act with urgency.
“We’re going to shift the national debate away from deficits and toward good jobs and workers’ rights,’’ he said.
The future of working people and the essence of our American democracy is on the line, Trumka said, adding that we can only win the fight if we hold together.
“We need to stand together for a future where every single worker has the fundamental right to be treated with dignity, to put in a hard, honest day’s work and be rewarded fairly for it, to have the health care and retirement security and the opportunity to see our children a little better off than we are.
“That’s the world we want, the world we deserve.”
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