Chicago – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the United Food and Commercial Workers Convention to honor the leadership of President Joseph Hansen and UFCW workers. Below are the Leader’s remarks as prepared:
“Thank you, President [Joseph] Hansen, for your introduction and for your ongoing friendship. Thank you for being a visionary leader for UFCW, for union workers, and for all of America’s working families. Whether as a meat cutter in Milwaukee or as International President of UFCW, your leadership has remained a reflection of your values: your belief in hard work, fair play, equality and opportunity for every worker. Thank you, President Hansen, for your strong leadership to ensure that the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act extend fairly to all Americans and do not diminish the hard-earned health care plans UFCW enjoys.
“It is a pleasure to be here with UFCW’s International Vice President Ron Lind, a leader for UFCW in my home state, and to recognize all of the workers here from California! On behalf of House Democrats, it is my honor to join President Hansen, Vice President Lind, and all of the leaders, activists, and workers here today, on behalf of House Democrats, it is an honor to join you in the fight for fairness and prosperity for every UFCW member.
“This month, America marks 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the National Mall and spoke of his extraordinary dream – of justice and equality, of opportunity and brotherhood, of progress and prosperity for all. Throughout his speeches and actions, Dr. King knew that the success of America’s unions and the strength of America’s middle class were central to achieving his dream. And in 1965, he spoke to the Illinois State AFL-CIO convention to remind gathered workers and activists that ‘the labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.’ It was true then in the 1960s and it is true today.
“Congratulations to the UFCW and the AFL-CIO on your announcement of rejoining the AFL-CIO. With the leadership of the UFCW, the labor movement remains a transformational force, a source of hope and progress, for workers, for families, for the middle class – the backbone of our democracy.
“The UFCW has been that force since its founding – as ‘America’s neighborhood union.’ UFCW members do the work that makes our economy work – as grocers, as retail clerks, as food processors and meat packers and manufacturers. The UFCW has chosen to organize, not agonize: to secure and protect workers’ rights; to stand up to companies that refuse to pay employees a living wage; [and] to act on an agenda focused on our top priorities as a nation – jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.
“That’s why my fellow Democrats and I are proud to stand with UFCW behind your theme: ‘Blue. Gold. Bold. Powerful Together.’ In our country, in our neighborhoods, in our stores and factories, on issues central to the lives and livelihoods of working Americans, the men and women of UFCW have been, and will remain, ‘powerful together.’ Together, you and we will keep standing strong for an honest day’s pay for a hard day’s work. Together, you and we will keep standing steadfast for good benefits, fair treatment, and safe working conditions. Together, you and we will keep standing tall for the rights of all workers to bargain collectively, to join a union, to organize in the workplace.
“Now and in the future, from our communities to Congress, we must use our power together to uphold a basic promise: that in the United States of America, all workers and all families deserve the security, certainty, and stability of equal pay and a living wage. To meet that task, we must remain powerful together to reignite the American Dream and build ladders of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, take responsibility, and play by the rules.
“And we have work to do. We must be confident standing together. We must restore confidence in our economy by strengthening the middle class and those aspiring to reach the middle class. It’s as simple as ABC: we must ‘Make It In America,’ so all of our families and workers and business owners can make it in America; we must create good-paying jobs here at home – and end tax breaks to send jobs overseas; we must build in innovation and infrastructure – and always keep America Number One.
“We must fight the growing disparity in income, which is undermining the middle class. Forty years ago, the average CEO made 40 times the wages of the average employee. Today, that CEO makes 350 times the wages of workers. It is immoral. It hurts families and harms the U.S. economy.
“One place to fight is in Congress and across our country. We must follow UFCW’s lead and go bold with a clear, strong plan to lift up working America. House Democrats have taken the first step with our economic agenda for women and families: ‘When Women Succeed, America Succeeds.’ This initiative is about the future of our families and the growth of our economy. It is founded on three pillars central to the work of UFCW and the labor movement.
“First, equal pay for working women. That means making the Paycheck Fairness Act the law of the land. That means raising the minimum wage to a living wage for all workers. Second, work and life balance for working families. That means expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act. That means securing paid family leave in states across the nation. Third, affordable child care for all Americans. That means more freedom for mothers and fathers in the workplace. That means a sense of security and peace of mind for all families. That means children learning, and parents earning, across America.
“These initiatives are about more than mere policy. They are about unleashing the power of women and strengthening working families. When women earn equal pay, America’s families prosper. When women and families have balance between work and home, America’s society thrives. When women succeed, America succeeds.
“Standing ‘powerful together,’ Democrats and UFCW must restore confidence in who we are as a people by enacting comprehensive immigration reform, with respect for our Native American brothers and sisters. We are, by and large, a nation of immigrants – built, strengthened, and enriched by each wave of newcomers to our shores. Immigration is an invigoration of our society and our economy, our character and our country.
“In every generation, immigrants come to our nation in search of the American Dream. Immigrants bring their hopes and aspirations, their determination to a build a brighter future for all. Immigrants share our patriotism, our values, and our faith in the promise of opportunity. Indeed, every immigrant who comes to America with that optimism, with those American traits, makes America more American.
“To honor that heritage and those ideals, commonsense reform must uphold our Democratic principles – to: secure our borders; protect our workers; unite our families; [and] provide an earned pathway to citizenship. With UFCW doing the outside mobilization, Democrats in Congress will do the inside maneuvering. This August, we need all of you to stay active in your communities, to build support for reform, to keep the drumbeat going to pass this legislation. We must reach out – to Republicans, to Democrats, to all Americans – to remind all of our Members of Congress that there’s no time to waste. There’s no reason to wait to get the job done. We will declare and affirm our unequivocal message: the time is now for comprehensive immigration reform.
“Standing together, we must also restore confidence in our safety. To honor our oath of office to “protect and defend,” we must pass strong background check legislation. As President Obama has said, we must be all in to get the job done. We must restore confidence in our democracy by decreasing the role of money and increasing the level of civility in our political campaigns. We must answer our DARE: D – Disclose; A – Amend Citizens United; R – Reform with public financing of campaigns; [and] E – Empower America’s voters and the middle class. We must fight to strengthen voting rights for all Americans, wherever we live. And when we reduce the role of money and raise the level of civility, we will elect more women, more minorities, more young people to office – that is wholesome for America.
‘“Blue. Gold. Bold. Powerful Together.’ That is UFCW’s mantra. That is our rallying cry. That is how we will ensure that the labor movement is an ever stronger force that transforms misery into hope and despair into progress. Together, we will use our power to keep the UFCW and American labor where it has always stood: at the forefront of growth, prosperity, and fairness for the American people. Together, we will use our power to create jobs and build an economy that works for all Americans. Together, we will use our power to reinforce the very essence of organized labor: stronger unions mean a growing economy; stronger unions mean a thriving middle class, [and] stronger unions mean a stronger America.
‘“Blue. Gold. Bold. Powerful Together.’ Thank you, President Hansen and the men and women of the UFCW, for your support and for your leadership America’s future.”