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Calvin Ward Speaks to Detroit Union Workers


CWard

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Good evening, brothers and sisters, union workers of the auto industry. It is my joy and my pride to speak to you, the men and women who day in and day out get up and put cars on the street and food on the tables. I know that situation. You may say, “This guy is a politician, just like the rest of them. Slick boy from Massachusetts coming into Detroit to tell us what he thinks we need to know.” But if that’s what you think you’re basing that on my present, not my past. We spent the first ten years of my life in Brooklyn, my daddy was a carpenter. He would get up in the early morning, kiss my mom, and work with his hands every day to give me and my brother and sister a better life than what he had. He was a union man, who stood with strength and solidarity with his union brothers and sisters. When he moved us to Boston, it was the local union there who helped us move in, get settled. I remember my father teaching me: never cross a picket line, solidarity forever. My parents tightened and saved every dollar they could to send me to college. I saw what the union did for my family, and I am proud. That’s why I went to work for the unions, and now why I’m in Congress, to give back, in solidarity forever. That’s what I’ve come to tell you tonight, I’ve come to speak on the subject of solidarity forever and what our commitments are as a party. 

Quite simply solidarity means that we aren’t turning our backs on the man or woman beside us. We aren’t going rogue, thinking about ourselves. There is power when we work together, when you look on the left and on the right and see your fellow laborers who have your back. There are some in Congress right now who say we shouldn’t be organized. That we shouldn’t be united because it’s not good for business. But not this party. The Democrats are backing unions. We say no to right to work for less, no to right to be taken advantage of. The Republicans, supported by their corporate pay masters, will tell you that we don’t need unions. That the free market will fix it. They believe that the wealthy will give up wealth in order to make their workers happy, despite never being the case. They say our day is over, they say our time is through. They say you need no union if your collar isn’t blue. But that is just another lie the GOP are telling you. The union makes us strong. It’s the union that fought for the five day work week, the forty hour week, the eight hour day, tolerable conditions and fair pay. So when the Republicans fight us on Taft-Hartley repeal, I’m going to ask them very simply: which side are you on? I’m standing with the workers, with the middle and lower class. Against them stand the bosses, who make sure they can’t organize. Which side are you on? Because while they want to see a labor policy that keeps you unorganized and weak, the Democratic Party has a simple goal: a labor movement for the many, not just the few

But isn’t something. That when the Democrats want to reach down and say, “nobody should work a full week at their job and not be able to make ends meet. Mr. Pinnacle from Arkansas, his constituents make $8 and hour. We did the math Mr. Pinnacle. Even if you pay an Arkansan nine dollars, and they live in an average apartment, have minimal bills, they still are forced to live on less than $13 a day for food, gas, clothes, the basic necessities of life. $13 dollars a day is not enough to make ends meet. You do not build growth that way. Mr. Pinnacle doesn’t need to sell us why his constituents don’t deserve a living wage. He needs to sell them on it. They complain about people drawing so called entitlements. But entitlements exist because people can’t make ends meet. People are not asking for something for nothing. We’re asking that hard working Americans be able to work and live off the fruit of their labor. This is not just a political necessity, rather it is a moral obligation. While one party argues that everyone should just run home from third base and pull themselves up by the bootstraps, we are a party that’s committed to forming a country that works for the many, not just the few. 

The fact of the matter is that a growing number of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and are living in the reality that one accident, sickness, or layoff away from personal economic devastation. I watched as the Republican front runner stood in South Carolina and ranted and railed against the Walton. But then speaking out of the other side of his mouth, vowed that the answer to income inequality is to reduce taxes on the rich. “The Waltons hold a vast majority of the wealth! Let’s make sure they get even more”. He wants to cut the estate tax because it hurts the middle class. Now let’s say you’re all middle class. Any of your moms and dads have 11 million dollars in the bank that you’re about to inherit? Old Fitz might! His daddy bought him a timber company, he might have some $11 million dollars that he had to pay taxes on. My dad was a carpenter, and I’m a carpenter’s son. I inherited from him some strong hands and a hard work ethic. While one party is focused on speaking out of both sides of their mouth, spreading falsehoods, and increasing the deficit, we are committed to an economic policy that works for the many not the few. 

The reality of the situation is that our schools lack the proper resources they need to teach, our teachers lack the proper pay to provide for themselves, and a generation is coming of age saddled with millions in student loan debt. The fact of the matter is that our universities have spent more time operating less like institutions of higher learning, and more like businesses. That’s why the Republican party will in the near future suggest that people pull their education tax dollars and go and spend them in the private sector. Public dollars to private institutions. This is only financial bloodletting, gutting our public schools, hurting our teachers, and making sure that while the private kids get a quality education, those who can’t afford it are left with the scraps. While the GOP are making sure that your tax dollars fund their kids private education, we are committed to an education policy that is focused on the many not the few. 

So don’t believe them! When they tell you we don’t need a labor movement in this country, don’t believe them! When they say that we can’t afford to make sure people can live off their own hard work, don’t believe them! When they say that the best way to help the middle class is to make sure their bosses pay less, vote them out! Stand with us; in solidarity. Because it is the Democratic Party that is fighting for unions. It’s the Democratic Party that stands with the middle class. When we they say that we need to help the rich, I’m going to stand at my desk and say, “No, no, no, we’re fighting for the many, and not just the few.” 
 

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Calvin Ward

Senator Massachusetts- D 

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