Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks this morning at the United Auto Workers (UAW) National Community Action Program (CAP) Legislative Conference. UAW delegates from across the country came to the legislative conference discuss the union's legislative and political priorities for the coming year and meet with Members of Congress to advocate on behalf of working families. Below are the Leader's remarks as prepared for delivery.
“Thank you UAW President Bob King!
“President King has been a champion of social justice for his entire career. He knows that the labor movement is part of the movement for social justice, and that the UAW is working on behalf of all workers - in America, and around the world.
“I would also like to acknowledge:
- The UAW's second-in-command, Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams
- Jim Wells, Director of Region 5, which includes my home state of California. Jim has led big successes in organizing student workers and postdoctoral researchers in the University of California system.
“I come here today to tell the UAW that Democrats know our most important job is to fight for American jobs.
“We prevented the country from falling into a Depression - Democrats took courageous votes to do so. Though some paid a price, they showed real political courage - and those courageous votes prevented the unemployment rate from reaching 16%!
“But that isn't enough. Much more needs to be done to open up the American dream and lift up the American economy. Much more needs to be done to solve the problems facing America's middle class.
“The only acceptable outcome is to fully and finally restore a fair prosperity for all Americans that good-paying jobs provide.
“We can do that by making it in America. The UAW knows that:
- ‘Make it in America' means a thriving industrial, technological, and manufacturing base in our country as the cornerstone of a growing economy.
- ‘Make it in America' means insisting that if China, and other nations, want a strong trading relationship with the United States, they must play by the rules.
- ‘Make it in America,' means we create jobs, strengthen our middle class, and lead the world economy.
- When we ‘Make it in America,' our workers can make it in America.
“‘Make it in America' means a more innovative and globally competitive domestic auto industry.
“Our domestic auto industry was key to our rise as the world's leading manufacturing and economic power. Today, with new green technologies, innovation, and the strength of the American auto worker, we will continue to lead the world.
“Indeed all of you are essential to American economic security and national security.
“That is why, two years ago, the House passed emergency legislation to strengthen the auto industry and save good American jobs. Consider the results:
“For the auto industry: All three U.S. automakers are now back in the black;
“For the American worker: We saved nearly 1.5 million American jobs; many workers are receiving profit-sharing checks, and those who lost their jobs are getting back to work: Ford just announced last week that they plan to hire 7,000 new employees.
“And for the American taxpayer: A $13.5 billion profit with GM's recent IPO;
“House Democrats and the UAW agree: we want American cars to lead the world and the new green economy. That's why the Recovery Act included $69 billion to develop advanced battery and electric vehicle technology and train Americans for green jobs in renewable energy and advanced technology automobile manufacturing.
“You are building the cars that American want to buy. We saw that with the Cash for Clunkers initiative, which was successful beyond our wildest dreams. When families traded in their gas-guzzlers for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles, the results were remarkable: 60,000 American jobs created or saved; 700,000 vehicles sold; and economic growth of up to $6.8 billion.
“Essential to America's continued economic growth is protecting our signature accomplishment: health care reform.
“This time last year, we were engaged in the fight of our lives; we could not have done it without the UAW.
“Many of us were inspired by the leadership of Senator Ted Kennedy, who, before his death, called health care reform the ‘great unfinished business of our society.'
“Ted Kennedy was our inspiration, but his inspiration, as he said many times, was Walter Reuther.
“From the earliest days of the UAW, you have been advocating for health care for all Americans.
“That's why Ted Kennedy said, ‘I'll think of Walter Reuther when we finally get the President to sign a health care bill - and make no mistake, we will get it.'
“To pass health care, you flew into action: making calls, activating your enormous retiree base, and lobbying your representatives.
“We need you to do so again.
“While Democrats work to create jobs, Republicans today are trying to repeal health care. You know what this means: repealing patients' rights; putting insurance companies back in charge; and ballooning the deficit.
“Republicans want to take us back to a system where:
- Children with pre-existing conditions can be denied coverage.
- Young people age 26 can't stay on their parents' plans.
- Pregnant women and breast and prostate cancer patients could be thrown off the insurance rolls.
- Seniors pay more for their drugs.
- The deficit increases by $230 billion.
- Small businesses pay higher taxes.
“We call on the UAW again: make your voice heard. Join us as we stand against repeal and for creating jobs. This will be a long-term effort, and we need you to be the cavalry, storming Capitol Hill.
“Tomorrow, we will honor the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration - a time of great optimism for our nation.
“I come before you today with the same optimism. Together, we will stand strong for the American people. Together, we will continue the progress we have made. Together, we will pursue an agenda rooted in the belief - as President Kennedy said - that unions hold ‘responsibilities not only to the laboring people of this country, but…to all our citizens.'
“Thank you, UAW, for strengthening our economy! Thank you, UAW, for strengthening our middle class! Thank you, UAW, for strengthening our nation!
“May God bless the UAW. May God bless America.”