Speech given at the United Steel Workers Rally, July 19, 2003
I am glad to see so many people here today, especially those from other unions, such as police and fire. It is an important show of solidarity. Someone pointed out to me that all the heroes of September 11th, the firefighters and police officers, were all union members. These heroes reflected the true values of America - health care, retirement benefits and a living wage for every working person in this country. They also believed in the 40-hour workweek and being fairly paid for overtime. We cannot allow the Bush Administration chip away at overtime pay!
The patriotism that has happened since 911 has created a new enthusiasm in our country. Our flag represents justice and fairness to all citizens. In my mind our government is there not for large corporations. They have the resources to fend for themselves. My job as an elected official is to fend for the average person. It is patriotic to fight for fair treatment in the work place. It is our patriotic duty to fight for good wages and benefits. And it is the corporationís patriotic duty to keep jobs at home. It is just plain un-American and wrong to continue to cut wages and jobs so that the stockholder and executives can reap more benefits. Goodyear; it is your patriotic duty to keep plants open and keep them in America!
I am proud to stand here with you today. Goodyear has been good for Lincoln. It has provided good jobs at fair wages and good benefits for years and we are grateful for that. It is those fair wages that have provided the economic development to this community. It is the working men and women of Goodyear who have supported this company and this city for years. All we are asking is for fairness to prevail!
There is a lot of talk about economic development these days. It was the main issue in the race for Mayor. The recent Angelou report strategizes about how to bring more jobs to Lincoln. But we do not need to bring more box stores and fast food restaurants to Lincoln. We need to pledge to bring jobs that pay a living wage and provide benefits to its people. It is the wage that is paid that brings in economic development, not just buildings.
I have worked hard to bring workers to the economic development table. I introduced, and the Council passed a resolution to our comprehensive plan saying that working men and women must be part of the economic development team. We need people who understand what is important to the average person, not just some multi-million dollar corporate executive. We need the unions to be a partner in economic development for this city. It is not easy to risk jobs and stand up for what is fair in todayís climate. The threat of job loss, and antiunion propaganda has put union workers in a bad position. It is not easy to put your families future on the line, and it is often lonely. I admire your courage. You are right to stand for fair pensions, fair wages and fair benefits. Your battle is a noble one and I pledge to stand with you every step of the way. I pledge to you to do everything that I possibly can to work for you!
Thank you very much for allowing me to be part of your team and thank you for doing what is right for America!