AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave the keynote address at the Montana AFL-CIO’s Leadership Luncheon last week. As always, President Trumka filled the room with energy as he spoke about the importance of protecting workers’ rights, establishing fair trade agreements, raising workers wages, and advocating for social and economic justice. Here are a few key takeaways from President Trumka’s speech.
- “We’ve got to figure out a comprehensive energy strategy that protects the environment AND creates good-paying union jobs to support working families. It’s not an either-or… Climate strategies that leave coal miners’ pension funds bankrupt, power plant workers unemployed, construction workers making less than they do now, plans that devastate communities today while offering vague promises about the future, these strategies are more than unjust. They fundamentally undermine the power of the political coalition needed to address the climate crisis.
President Trumka’s words definitely resonate with Montanans, especially our brothers and sisters in Colstrip. We don’t have to trade off workers’ well being for a clean environment, the situation is not a zero summation. The American people are innovators, there’s no reason why we can’t make this work. To hear President Trumka delve deeper into this, check out his interview with Montana Public Radio.
2) “NAFTA made systematic worker suppression North America’s prevailing economic model. And, it has become the template for other anti-worker trade agreements, perpetuating this vicious cycle of outsourcing to low-wage, low-standard regions, Destroying our livelihoods in the process.”
For 25 years NAFTA has sold out workers across North America. U.S. jobs were lost and Mexican workers were exploited. Any new version of this deal that comes out has to put workers first, everywhere. Currently, the Trump administration wants to ram an equally poor version of this deal through Congress. We need to put pressure on our elected officials to make sure this doesn’t happen!
3) “We believe collective bargaining should be available to anyone who wants it. The PRO Act, which was recently introduced in Congress, is our best shot at achieving that goal. It would protect and expand the right to join a union. Let me repeat that: The RIGHT to join a union.
Billionaires hate unions because they work. When our voice is collective it rings louder and more people hear it. Every worker has the right to unionize and the PRO Act provides the best safeguard against anti-union policies. Contact your representatives and get this legislation passed!
4) “Part of our vision for a better America depends on electing pro-worker candidates to office.”
No one knows the issues facing working Montanans better than those who have dealt with them first hand. We are fortunate to have Sen. Jon Tester, a working farmer, advocating on our behalf in Washington, but if we’re going to make real change and build an economy that benefits working people we need union members running down the ballot. This means city council, county commission, school board and state legislature.
5) We’ll march for it. We’ll Organize for it. We’ll picket for it. We’ll fight for it. Brothers and sisters, are you ready to fight? ARE YOU READY TO FIGHT?
This won’t come easy. We know that making this plan a reality will take hard work, a well organized network of individuals, as well as time and energy. But it’s all worth it. So let these words serve as our rallying cry as we move forward through the rest of 2019 and embark on 2020.