Watch President Gerard's keynote speech in our video library.
Good morning, sisters and brothers.
You know me. I’m Leo Gerard – a few pounds lighter but happier than ever to be here.
As a matter of fact, I’m happy and lucky to be anywhere these days.
And I know you. You’re the leaders of the greatest union in the world – the United Steelworkers!
We’re not only the best, we’re the most diverse. We’re the biggest union on this continent in rubber and steel…
The biggest in paper and forestry…
The biggest in oil and in mining…
Plus we’re the biggest in aluminum, brick and glass, not to mention the growing number of our members in health care and in higher education.
Your solidarity over the past three years – all of you, in every one of these sectors, whether you settled on reasonable terms or were forced to walk a picket line – you’re the reason I’m so privileged, and so proud and humble to serve as your president.
So, thank you for your trust in me, in our officers, you’re Executive Board. Thank you for your faith in your union, and for all you do for our members each and every day.
* * * * *
Three years ago, when we met in this city, we made history.
We merged two great unions into the largest, most powerful private sector union in North America.
This week we’ll report on the progress we’ve made in building bargaining power for our members.
We’ll address the stark realities we face in an economy in which the power of global corporations all too often slows our progress toward economic and social justice.
And we’ll once again make history, as we did three years ago, by urging your support for creating the world’s first global union, and by expanding the ranks of our leadership by adding a new Vice President at Large to our Executive Board.
Myself and your Board recognize that it’s time that we add a woman to our Board and we intend to recommend a rank and file woman member of our union for the new position.
We’ll present an agreement that creates Workers Uniting, a merger of our Union and Unite the union…
A merger that will forge into one strong union our USW ranks of 1.2 million active and retired members and Unite the union’s more than 2-million active and retired members in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
United in global solidarity – three million strong – we’ll be a force that global corporations and their financiers in New York, London and Toronto will have no choice but to reckon with.
And that’s a reckoning that’s long overdue.
* * * * *
It’s well past time to challenge the power of today’s global capital – before it does any more damage to the lives of working people.
Before it succeeds completely in putting a 21st Century face on the Robber Baron values of yesterdyear.
Globalization is the driving force behind this New Age of Robber Barons.
It has revolutionized the way business is done – and the way workers’ aspirations are dealt with – if dealt with at all.
The growing power of global corporations is all around us.
We see it in the way employers try to use globalization to whipsaw us in bargaining.
We see it in the way multinationals dominate Congress and Parliament.
We see it in the glut of corporate buyouts in every industry from aluminum to mining, from paper to steel, and many more.
But there’s a revolution happening right under our noses that’s not so easy to see:
I’m talking about the growth of finance as the dominant economic force in industrial societies like ours.
Manufacturing was once the engine of our economic growth and the fuel that energized the rise of a prosperous Middle Class in both our countries.
The great organizing drives in our industries ensured that our members’ hard work got them a much greater share of manufacturing’s booming growth.
Our bargaining victories in our two countries built a secure Middle Class that in time became the envy of the world.
Over the last three decades, all that has changed – radically changed.
Today, finance rules the world. Today, finances’ share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product is twice as much as manufacturing’s.
And finances’ share of corporate profits is nearly five times as great as manufacturing.
As a result, today’s Robber Barons of Bay Street and Wall Street are reaping billions through reckless financing schemes…
While working people keep getting pushed farther and farther down the economic food chain.
They’ve done it by deregulating everything from finance to labor law and creating one ponzi scheme after another.
The days of our union are far from done. We’re still winning more than our share, despite the odds that globalization is sticking us with.
But there’s no sense kidding ourselves, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting a little dim.
The once proud days of national industries are on the wane.
Since we met three years ago, Canada’s national mining industry has been gobbled up by foreign owners.
And a global steel giant headquartered in Europe now dominates the U.S. market and has a growing presence in Canada.
Plus dozens of paper companies are engaging in endless asset swaps.
These are big changes – all of them. With consequences none of us can afford to ignore.
Changes that put us at a crossroads where the choices we face are more than tough – they’re monumental.
We can continue to buck the headwinds of change at our own risk. . .
Or we can do what it takes to master the changing world we live in.
Either way you cut it, we’re up against some very tough odds.
They’re not just daunting for our members; they challenge the very existence of the Labor Movement.
We’re not only being challenged by employers who want to export our jobs, gut our health care and rob us of our pensions.
We’re up against 30 years of right-wing politicians who view working people as suckers, and unions as dinosaurs that need to be exterminated.
On top of it all, both our economies are in the tank.
By Friday when we leave here, there’s a good chance that Canada’s manufacturing crisis will have cost us more jobs in every sector – and that’s on top of the 350,000 jobs that have already taken a hit.
And the US will slide deeper into recession, dragging Canada down with it.
Meanwhile, we’re stuck with leaders in Washington and Ottawa who bow and scrape to every whim of their corporate benefactors, instead of addressing working people’s needs.
Yet, despite all this, we’re still here. Through it all, we not only manage to survive, we often beat the odds.
Sometimes we even thrive. In District 5 in Quebec, we’ve organized at least 3,000 new members a year for the past five years.
In fact, we’ve got more members in Canada today than we’ve ever had.
So we’ve got plenty of victories to be proud of. But not every struggle gets us everything we want.
Sometimes we settle for the best we can get, even when we know we deserve more.
There’s a reason why we’re still alive and kicking after all these years.
It’s right up there on that screen behind me.
We’re standing on the shoulders of men and women of unbelievable courage.
Workers who fought for half a century to win our right to bargain.
From 19th century bargaining units like the Sons of Vulcan or the paper workers tiny Eagle Lodge to the growing activism of today’s Women of Steel, we share a common vision.
The powerful belief that every human being, no matter where they work – no matter their gender, their race or their creed –
Every worker has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and the right to retire with security.
Those are basic Steelworker values. And through thick and thin, for decades they’ve been unshakeable.
They’re values that call on us to make sure that any employer who honors our basic rights gets a pretty fair shake –
And any sorry bastard who violates them gets the fight he deserves.
Let us never forget that those who came before us often paid a price in blood for the rights we enjoy...
Whether they were Steelworkers, Oil Workers, Rubber Workers, Paper Workers, Forestry Workers or Health Care Workers.
Their unions’ names may have been different, but they were all the same in one essential way.
They stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity – workers uniting, no matter how great the sacrifice or how tough the odds.
Uniting to win the rights they should have had in the first place but had to fight like hell to get – rights we must still fight to keep!!
The God-given Human Rights that no employer should ever deny a person who labors for a living.
* * * * *
Thousands of workers are still fighting to win those rights: the right to organize; the right to bargain, the right to safe and decent work.
Often, we’re still paying with our lives...
Or with our bodies –
Bodies broken by miserable working conditions.
Workers in places like Liberia, where Firestone makes them carry two buckets of rubber – 70 pounds each – several miles across a plantation for a lousy 42-cents an hour.
Rubber that splashes onto their skin and scars their bodies.
Workers weighted down with production quotas so tough they have to put their kids to work to keep their jobs.
For decades Firestone in Liberia colluded with a brutal dictator to prevent those workers from forming a union.
Maximizing profits wasn’t Firestone’s only motive. They were keeping Liberian labor costs dirt cheap so they could whipsaw Bridgestone/Firestone workers in bargaining everywhere else in the world.
Today, because of our union’s efforts, those Liberian workers have a union and they’re bargaining a first contract.
They’re here with us today and I want to ask them to stand and be acknowledged along with Liberia’s Labor Minister, Samuel Kofi Woods.
The Liberian rubber workers are taking that first historic step thanks to a new reform government – and to the hands-on training our union reached out to give them over several years.
Because Steelworkers understand that an injury to one truly is an injury to all, whether the worker being exploited is in Liberia or right here at home in Laverne, Tennessee.
Workers like those trying to organize in Colombia, where more trade unionists are murdered each year than in the rest of the world combined – 2,500 of them in the past couple of decades.
And some of those incredibly courageous leaders from Colombia are here with us today and I want them to stand so we can pay tribute to their tenacity.
Columbia is still – after all the Bush rhetoric – the most dangerous place on the planet to be a trade unionist.
It tells you everything you need to know about the Bush administration that, despite this murderous union-bashing record, Bush keeps pushing for a Free Trade deal with Colombia.
And it tells you everything about our union that you and our Rapid Response folks are the ones who got Speaker Pelosi to stop the Colombia Trade deal from being voted on in Congress.
The same way we got her to help stop Fast Track from getting reauthorized.
But you don’t have to look as far away as Colombia or Liberia to see workers being brutally exploited.
Right across the border we’ve got another NAFTA partner whose government is supposed to be civilized.
Right across that border, 65 Mexican miners from a union called Los Mineros were killed in a mine disaster.
Today, 63 of of those miners still lay buried deep beneath the rubble from an explosion in that mine, owned by Grupo Mexico.
The same Grupo Mexico that tried to wipe out the pensions and health care of our retirees at the Asarco mines right here in the American Southwest – and walked away from billions of environmental liabilities.
Down in Mexico, those 63 miners remain buried in that miserable tomb because Grupo got the Mexican government to shut down the rescue operation after only six days.
When the union’s president, Napoleon Gomez, had the guts to call it what it was– “industrial homicide” – the Mexican government illegally removed him from office on trumped up charges. . .
Even though Napoleon has beat every trumped up charge in the Mexican courts, plus being overwhelmingly elected four times by his members in the last two years.
To this day, he and his family are living in exile in Vancouver, where they’re safe because our union in an act of solidarity got them out of Mexico and into Canada.
Napoleon Gomez and Los Mineros are truly modern day labor heroes.
* * * *
Why? Why are we extending a life-saving hand to our Mexican sisters and brothers?
Because solidarity has no borders.!!!
Because, when Grupo tried to rob our retirees of their pensions at Asarco, Napoleon Gomez led a huge protest with his members in Mexico City on our behalf.
Because Steelworkers stand in solidarity with miners throughout the world in their fight for a safe and healthy workplace.
That’s the reason we fought for more than a decade to win the Westray bill in Canada after an explosion killed 26 miners.
A law that now subjects employers to criminal charges if they neglect safety hazards that they know put workers at risk.
And we’ll never give up the fight for Los Mineros miners until Napoleon Gomez is returned to Mexico and his rightful role as his union’s elected president.
Because there’s not a government in the world nor a corporation on earth that has the right to tell workers who their union leader should be.
Because the exploitation of workers beyond our borders is just the opening salvo in a campaign to exploit workers right here at home…
Including the members we represent.
Members routinely betrayed by companies that used to give them half decent treatment.
Like the thousands of our members at Goodyear who were forced out on strike for 15 weeks – right through the Christmas holiday – rather than let the company stick us with the insulting deal they offered on health care.
What else can you call it but exploitation when Goodyear goes to Wall Street and raises a billion dollars to try and break our union?
Before we agreed to lay down our picket signs, we made Goodyear put that billion dollars into a benefit trust that gives our people quality health care – members and retirees alike.
Bottom line, we told Goodyear exactly where to stick their billion dollars.
Our members in British Columbia suffered exploitation of a different kind.
They were forced to lay down their forestry tools and tell their employers to start saving lives, instead of giving our work to contractors whose irresponsibility was killing more than 30 workers a year and maiming another 90!
It was exploitation of a different kind that forced our health care workers at Appalachian Regional Healthcare to strike instead of taking a second-rate offer from a bunch of overpaid paper pushers.
The same with our members at Nuclear Fuel who had to walk the picket line for a solid year.
The sort of exploitation that caused our members at Ormet to once again stand down Emmet Boyle for two long years when he tried to stick it to them the way he did to our members at Ravenswood.
Remember Ravenswood? That’s the place where Lynn Williams and George Becker and our members led the fight to win a decent contract by kicking Emmet Boyle’s ass 15 years ago – the same way we did once again at Ormet.
All of those members – more than 100,000 of them – overcame exploitation over the past three years by telling their cutthroat employers,
“We’ve had enough. And we’re not taking your crap any more.”
And if you were lucky enough not to be among those who were forced out on strike, then count your blessings.
But don’t count on always being so lucky.
The global assault on workers is now in full swing, and there’s no guarantee the next corporate axe won’t fall on you.
Global capital is feeling its oats. Reagan, Mulroney and Thatcher gave them the high sign nearly 30 years ago, and they’ve been lowering the boom on us ever since.
They’re so brazen they even try to convince us that the workers they’re exploiting in other countries are our “competitors” –
So-called “competitors” in a global race to the bottom on wages, benefits and environmental standards.
But no amount of deception can hide the truth.
It can’t hide the fact that an injury to one is still an injury to all – no matter who the worker is who’s being injured – no matter where the exploitation is taking place.
Make no mistake, impoverished workers in the developing world are as much our brothers and sisters as the men and women who brought our union to life.
Our adversaries call this global scheme of worker exploitation “free trade.”
Lets us call it what it is – union busting on steroids. And our response has got to be clear:
“We’ve had enough and we’re not taking that crap anymore.”
Sisters and brothers, this is our time. Now is the time for us to go on offense.
It’s time to take back every job they’ve contracted out, every job they’ve outsourced.
It’s time to restore every right they’ve managed to diminish.
This is our time – our time to build on the activism we’ve developed through Rapid Response, Women of Steel, Contract Action Teams, our Leadership Development Program and the thousands of our activist core in our political operation.
Bothers and Sisters, friends and family, the winds of change are at our backs.
The public’s figured out what our members knew long ago: Globalization has stacked the deck against working people – not only here, but everywhere.
In poll after poll, Democrats and New Democrats, Independents – even Republicans – have seen the light.
They’ve seen that free trade, tax cuts, privatizing our pensions, deregulating the economy and busting unions are all a part of the same deceitful sleight of hand.
They’re the rules of combat in a war designed to turn millionaires into billionaires…
And turn the rest of us into second class citizens.
They’ve radically changed the social contract – beyond all recognition.
With fear as their weapon, they’re laying waste to the Middle Class.
They play the old divide and conquer game.
The weapons they use take different shapes. In one election, it might be gun rights – in another it’s tax cuts or the right to life.
But the bottom line is always the same.
Distract and deceive. Divide and conquer.
Time and again, they try to fill our hearts with fear.
Time and again, their strategies get some of our members voting for politicians who couldn’t give a damn about working people.
* * * * *
For a quarter of a century, we organized new members and used our bargaining clout to get the better of the system.
When the boys in the pinstripes and Guccis figured out they couldn’t win anymore, they flat out changed the rules of the game.
They fed the coffers of candidates who fed our fears, while they surrendered our sovereign rights through a new global system of finance and trade...
A system in which they make all the rules –
And reap nearly all the rewards.
This is our moment to challenge that shell game and reassert our rightful place as champions of the Middle Class.
It’s our time to challenge the free traders
It’s our time to develop a trade agenda that lifts all boats on a wave of prosperity
It is our time to challenge those trying to privatize Social Security.
To challenge the assault on Canadian health care.
To fight for an Employee Free Choice Act that restores a worker’s right to choose a union and bargain our way to prosperity.
To elect leaders who will push for universal health care in the US, and fight to preserve it in Canada.
But we can only make this moment ours if we seize it.
If we fight like hell for the changes that make a difference in the lives of our families, our communities, and generations to come.
NO one can guarantee that if we fight we’ll always win.
BUT I can Guarantee if WE DON’T FIGHT, WE’LL ALWAYS LOOSE!!!!
* * * * *
We’ve laid the groundwork for these efforts.
To combat the power of corporate lobbyists, we’ve strengthened our Rapid Response program in the U.S. and expanded it to Canada.
In Canada, the tireless lobbying of our members led to passage of a " Workers First" bill that protects workers when employers go bust.
Workers First does exactly what it’s name says. It creates a wage protection fund which ensures that workers go to the front of the line and get up to $3,000 when companies go bankrupt.
And it gives annual contributions to pension funds priority ahead of secured creditors.
Better yet, bankruptcy judges won’t be able to amend collective agreements any more the way they used to – and still do far too often in America.
We’ve also gotten anti-scab legislation like Quebec’s through first and second readings in the Canadian Parliament before it got derailed by double-dealing Liberals.
But we’ll be coming right back at them in the next session of Parliament.
In Nova Scotia, we successfully lobbied to change the Pension Benefits Act to require employers to fully fund pension plans when they wind them up.
Companies that have the ability to pay will no longer be able to avoid their responsibility to fully fund pensions by winding them up.
When you add to that our victory in getting Employee Free Choice majorities in both the House and U.S. Senate, we’ve got plenty to be proud of.
But the thing we should all be proudest of is the progress we’ve made in bargaining since the merger we signed here three years ago.
First of all we’ve strengthened our bargaining clout by extending building power training to our members in paper, oil and pharmaceuticals.
In fact, during the last three years we have conducted more than 500 Contract Action Team training sessions.
The results have already exceeded our fondest expectations.
For example, who would have imagined we could bring International Paper to its senses, a company that for decades was hell bent on breaking the union and lowering standards for the industry?
Well, we changed all that.
We not only got a master framework agreement with IP, we got contract protection language in a successorship clause that protects our members’ jobs at a time when companies are being bought and sold faster than used cars.
Of course it wasn’t – nor is it now – all peaches and cream.
When Smurfit-Stone sold its Brewton, Alabama plant to Georgia Pacific without successorship protection, GP fired all our members and forced them to reapply for jobs they’d held for decades.
To save those jobs, we rallied community and USW support from all our sectors.
Today, thanks to the solidarity of our members in Brewton and the activism of the International in standing behind them, virtually every one of those Brewton members is back on the job – and they’ve just signed a first class collective agreement that brings them up to GP standards across the board.
And then we got Smurfit-Stone to the bargaining table.
And once we had them there, we never let them forget how they’d betrayed us.
Our members throughout paper kept the pressure on them until they gave us one of the best deals our members at Smurfit Stone have ever had – including successorship protection for every facility.
NO more ability to betray our hard working members when they flip a plant. NO more betrayal, NO MORE BETRAYAL, Solidarity Works
Then we turned around and got a framework agreement that covers all of the GP facilities. Mills and Coverters -- ALL FACILITIES
Three years ago, who would have thought we could have come this far this fast?
To top it all off, we even struck up a partnership with SCA that’s a model for the industry and signed a first-rate agreement with Stora Enso that even has common expiration dates for all the North American units in its operations.
And for good measure, we cured any ideas Merck or Medco might have had about denying our members the contracts they deserve in the pharmaceutical industry.
Now we’re turning our sights on oil and steel, two industries that are rolling in dough. They’re now raking in more money than at any time in their history.
In steel we’re dealing with companies whose shareholders and investors have made a killing…
Whose CEOs have padded their wallets and fattened their bank accounts – plus doling out millions in bonuses to second-rate bosses.
Now it’s our turn to get the economic and job security that’s long overdue.
They can poor mouth all they want, because they always do.
But there’s a few things we’ll never let them forget.
We’ll never let them forget we fought for the tariffs that saved the steel industry when they wouldn’t.
We’ll never let them forget that we put 30,000 members on Bush’s White House lawn to win the tariffs that put the industry back on its feet.
And we’re still fighting to win better health care for retirees and surviving spouses that steel industry bosses and their financiers were willing to abandon without a second thought.
So, if the steel industry’s top negotiators try to short change us this time around, they’re in for one helluva fight. There will be no more taking our members and retirees for granted -- NO MORE
Of course, the oil industry’s revenues dwarf the astronomical haul the steel industry has been raking in.
While our members are getting killed at the pump just getting the gas they need to drive to work, the oil industry is swimming in wealth – the greatest financial haul in the history of mankind.
We’re talking about an industry with nearly $2 trillion a year in revenues – more than three quarters of it flowing to five major integrated companies.
Last year, industry profits totaled more than $155 billion, more than a third of that – over $40 billion in net income – was raked in by ExxonMobil alone.
Yet, this is an industry that has gotten a contract extension in the each of the last two bargaining cycles…
An industry in which corporate disregard for worker safety is both deadly and a disgrace…
An industry in which our members still have to pay a significant portion of their health care costs, a situation that is nothing short of insulting and demeaning.
Especially when the industry’s top executives are giving themselves more in pay and perks than the economies of entire countries.
Like ExonMobil’s CEO, who hauled in nearly $17 million in compensation last year.
One guy even pocketed $300 million as he walked out the door.
To top it all off, this industry is getting more than $17 billion of our hard-earned money in the form of federal tax breaks.
Well let me tell you, the boys in Big Oil are in for a rude awakening.
Because, if anybody thinks the Steelworkers is going to give the CEOs who run this industry another pass, they’d better think twice.
This time, we’re ready. We’re giving our members in oil the Building Power training they need. So, by the time bargaining starts, we’ll all be ready.
We’ll be ready to bargain for the pay, the benefits and the safer conditions they should have offered us a long time ago.
So, the days of double-dealing in Big Oil are done. This time there will be no taking our members in oil for granted – NO MORE!
This is a New Day. This is our time.
This round of bargaining is one in which they’re going to play it straight with us – or they’ll have hell to pay.
* * * * *
The bargaining clout we’ve been able to build over the past three years – and that we’ll build upon in oil and steel – is a tribute to all of you.
But building the kind of power it takes to prevail in the global economy means fighting on more fronts than bargaining.
It means taking the fight wherever we must to protect our members and grow our numbers.
It means challenging rotten trade deals at every turn, in more and more innovative ways.
For awhile we were losing on the legislative front most of the time. Now that’s changing. We’re winning some – and we’re going to win some more.
In 2006, our work helped Democrats take back the Congress with a sweeping victory in the House and a squeaker in the Senate.
In all, we wiped out twenty-two (22) Republican incumbents in the House and eight more in the Senate. Almost all of the insurgent winners have been our strongest allies in combating the damage being caused by these job-stealing trade deals.
We’ve built the ranks of our local Activist Corps by more than 10-fold over the past two years, with clear and positive results.
And we want to double that again this year.
To do that, we need you to get in the fight, so we can win even bigger in November.
The work of our USW Activist Corps helped us win an upset victory for Jill Long Thompson in the Indiana primary for governor. And she will join us here this week.
Our staff and local union activists also helped win a special House election in Louisiana, where a Democrat hasn’t won in a dog’s age.
And in Northern Mississippi, we won a special Congressional election where a Democrat hasn’t won since Reconstruction.
All of these victories owe much to the rising tide of resentment working people feel toward the powerful interests that have dominated our governments in recent years.
Working people all across the land are demanding changes.
Now’s the time for us to seize upon this growing call for change.
Now’s the time to make sure every member knows we can’t afford four more years of politicians who pit workers across the globe against each other.
Now’s our time – but building that kind of heightened awareness will only come through tireless work by all of us…
The demanding job of making sure every one of our members faces up to the choices before us…
It will only come from convincing our members to put aside their fears and muster the courage to keep faith with our deepest values.
Now’s the time for real leadership. Now is our time – it’s Steelworker time.
Our time to build a future in which manufacturing is once again the key to growing prosperity.
A future of investing in renewable energy production to combat global warming and create a new surge of home-grown jobs.
A future free from the crippling grip of Mideast oil…
And free from the tragic loss of life being spent to secure it.
We’re already mounting the efforts to make that brighter future a reality.
Like our campaign all across North America to Stop Imports that are poisoning our families.
Toxic imports like the heparin that’s already taken 72 people’s lives, and the faulty Chinese-made tires that put thousands more lives at risk.
Efforts like our fight to stop China from wiping out more of our jobs – more than 2,000 of them in coated free sheet alone.
We joined with NewPage to take that fight to the federal government.
We joined with the Sierra Club to demand that China stop dumping coated free sheet on the U.S. market from timber being illegally harvested in Indonesia…
Illegal trade that was killing thousands of our jobs and stoking the fires of global warming.
Our case was so strong we even got the Bush Administration off its ass.
For the first time ever, Bush’s Commerce Department ruled that anti-subsidy laws should be applied to China for violating the trade rules.
And we didn’t stop there.
We went after China’s blatant cheating on other fronts.
By demanding that the US punish China for massive trade violations that are killing our jobs in circular welded pipe.
The investigation we helped trigger at Commerce found what our members already knew firsthand:
That Chinese producers were dumping pipe on our markets by as much as 85 percent below the cost of production.
The investigation also found that Chinese pipe producers benefit from illegal government subsidies at rates well over 600 percent.
In fact, the investigation found that over the past five years pipe and tube imports from China increased by six thousand, nine hundred (6,900) percent!
You heard me right – six thousand, nine hundred percent.
As a result, 500 American workers lost their jobs – a quarter of the workers in that sector of the steel pipe industry.
Nobody can compete against that kind of cheating. Nobody should have to.
In fact, nobody should need to spend a fortune on legal cases or be a rocket scientist to prove countries like China are cheating.
It’s so obvious you’d have to be George Bush to miss it.
Our trade policies have to change. Even the lead American negotiator for China’s entry into the WTO has figured it out.
He wrote recently that the only beneficiaries to the China deal have been “multinational companies that moved to China and the financial institutions that financed those investments…”
“Is there any wonder,” he concluded, “that the people on Main Street [now know] that trade agreements do not work?”
Well, they don’t work and they’ve got to be changed.
And that means a change in the way business has been done in Washington for the past 30 years.
We not only need change, we need to be part of making change happen – change that we can believe in. Change that we lead!!!
* * * * *
But changing the system won’t come easy.
As a matter of fact, unless we do our job, change won’t come at all.
So, the evidence is indisputable. We’re at a cross roads. And we’ve got a choice.
It’s all a question of what we want and what we’re willing to fight for.
If we want a president hell bent on privatizing Social Security, McCain will give us that, just like Bush did.
If we want a president who voted to legalize scabs, we’ll get that with McCain, the same as we did with Bush.
If we want the union cut out of bargaining health care benefits, that’s what McCain wants to do.
If we want our health care benefits taxed as income, that’s what McCain plans to do.
If we want a president who’ll veto the Employee Free Choice Act, McCain’s all for that, just like Bush was.
If we want a president who says he’s never seen a free trade deal he doesn’t love, that’s exactly what McCain says.
So, all we have to do to keep up the assault on working people is sit on our hands and do nothing until November…
And John McCain will stick us with four more years of legalizing scabs, undercutting our pensions, messing with our health care, and cutting more rotten trade deals that are killing our jobs.
Or we can make a different choice. We can make history by working and voting for Barack Obama:
Obama – who time and again has said he’ll push for Employee Free Choice …
Obama - who’ll go to bat for universal health care that lowers costs…
Obama – whose got a plan to revitalize manufacturing, and …
Who wants to restore a measure of sovereignty to our lives by making workers the top priority in any trade deal he negotiates.
So, sisters and brothers, there’s a real choice this time around.
We can have real change by shooting for the stars.
Or we can shoot ourselves in the foot and get four more years of Bush’s assault on working people with John McCain.
The choice is ours. Yours and mine. But lets be clear.
Our kids can’t afford for us to fail or falter. They need us to make the choice that gives them the same shot in life that we’ve had.
The time is now.
Seize this moment in history–this is our time.
Our kids and the future are counting on us.
Seize the chance to elect a President committed to working people and elect a Congress that cares about more than Corporate America’s quarterly profits.
Seize this moment to win universal health care for all of us.
Seize it to liberate workers who want to organize without the fear of being fired.
Seize this moment to strengthen our Strike and Defense Fund so we gain greater bargaining clout and better benefits for those who make the ultimate sacrifice.
Seize this moment to create the world’s first global union.
Seize it to make the politicians stop dancing for the pleasure of billionaires.
Seize this moment and you will see the winds of change come roaring across North America.
But, sisters and brothers, seize it most of all for our kids and grandkids, so that they can look back years from now and say,
“Our Steelworker moms and dads made us proud. They did for us what their parents and grandparents did for them.
“They worked like never before to change our lives for the better.”
Sisters and brothers, seize this moment to rekindle the hope we have for a better future,
Our kids and grand kids, our families, our communities and our planet are all counting on us,
Sister and brothers, their hopes and dreams are a cause worth fighting for.
We must not falter. We must not fail.
Seize the moment – now is the time! NOW IS OUR TIME