November 7, 2018

Trumka: Union Members Driving Force in 2018 Election

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka delivered the following remarks at a post-election press conference: 

Thanks, Julie (Greene). Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us.

As Julie explained, we ran a very deliberate political program this cycle. We were focused on having a conversation with our members and ensuring our movement was ready to make our voices heard on Election Day.

That’s exactly what happened last night. Union members were a driving force in this election. We fought for our issues, for union candidates and for our proven allies.

The result? We’re filling the halls of power with our own. More than 700 union members were elected to office last night...and that number is growing as more results come in. In Nevada, we sent a union member to the United States Senate—Jacky Rosen. We sent another to the governor’s mansion in Michigan—Gretchen Whitmer. Minnesota’s new governor is a union member—Tim Walz. Jahana Hayes and Ilhan  Omar, both union members, broke hard glass ceilings in their winning campaigns for Congress. Colin Allred, an NFLPA member, took down Pete Sessions—as deep-rooted an incumbent as you’ll ever find.

We also showed up for our allies...and sent the friends of corporate interests packing.

It gave me no small pleasure waking up this morning, knowing that Scott Walker and Bruce Rauner will be packing their bags in the coming weeks.

But, it gave me even greater confidence knowing that we’ve elected an army of pro-worker governors in their place, from Wisconsin and Illinois to Nevada to Colorado to Maine to Kansas.

Working people took an important step forward last night. From state houses and governor’s mansions to Capitol Hill, we have the support we need to start building the future we deserve. Because, what we saw last night is part of something bigger than politics.

All year, I’ve had the pleasure of travelling across the country...listening to union members from all sectors and communities. Autoworkers in Michigan. Culinary workers in Nevada. Public workers in Minnesota. Mineworkers in my home state of Pennsylvania.

In every state you were all watching last every working community I visited, there was one common story. Working people are tired of a corporate-controlled government and a corporate-run economy. We’re tired of politicians who listen to the whispers of a few CEOs and ignore the voices of working families. We’re done with a broken system where we work harder and longer than ever before...producing more wealth than ever before...but taking home the same or even less.

There’s an energy unlike anything I’ve seen in my fifty years in the labor movement. An urgency to demand something better. We’re organizing. We’re marching. We’re striking. We’re fighting for affordable health care and a secure retirement...for our fundamental rights and dignities on the job. And, as we made clear last night, we’re making ourselves seen on the campaign trail...and making ourselves heard at the ballot box.

Given what we saw last night, I have some pretty simple advice for any politician getting ready for the next cycle. If you prove yourself as a genuine ally of working people, we’ll move heaven and earth for you. But, we won’t waste a dime or a door knock on fair weather friends. We made clear last night that we won’t stand for those who prioritize the demands of an elite few—whether they’re anti-labor Republicans or pro-corporate Democrats.

Now, Julie and I would be happy to take some questions.