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Sanders Calls for National Ban on Right to Work, Presses Candidates to Stand With Unions
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=38289"><span class="small">NH Labor News</span></a>   
Tuesday, 09 April 2019 13:21

Excerpt: "U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders today called for a national ban on right-to-work laws, and for every candidate running in 2020 to explicitly stand with unions in their organizing drives across the country. He also demanded American Airlines back off its push to slash airline workers benefits as it pays its CEO more than $19 million a year."

Senator Bernie Sanders arrives for a town hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa, May 28, 2015. (photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)
Senator Bernie Sanders arrives for a town hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa, May 28, 2015. (photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)


Sanders Calls for National Ban on Right to Work, Presses Candidates to Stand With Unions

By NH Labor News

09 April 19


In a speech to the International Association of Machinists, the Vermont senator also demanded that American Airlines stop pressing to slash airline workers’ benefits

.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders today called for a national ban on right-to-work laws, and for every candidate running in 2020 to explicitly stand with unions in their organizing drives across the country. He also demanded American Airlines back off its push to slash airline workers benefits as it pays its CEO more than $19 million a year.

In a speech to the International Association of Machinists at their conference in Las Vegas, Sanders said that, as president, he will demand Congress pass legislation to effectively ban right to work laws all over America. His call comes as conservatives push a court case to try to expand right-to-work into the transportation industry.

Citing his campaign’s work supporting local union organizing across the country, Sanders also declared:

“The question we have to ask is this: Why does the billionaire class and corporate America hate the trade union movement so much? And the answer is pretty simple: The trade union movement is the last line of defense for working families of this country…We have got to rebuild, strengthen and expand the trade union movement in America. We need elected officials and candidates at every level to get serious about speaking out for the trade union movement. This should not be an afterthought. If we’re talking about growing wages, providing health care to all people, having a progressive tax system, the trade union movement must be in the middle of all of those discussions.”

Sanders also weighed in on the negotiations between the machinists and American Airlines.

“Let me say a word about some of the issues that the IAM is dealing with right now. Right now, American Airlines wants to slash the pay of its workers, outsource jobs, take away health care benefits, and abolish its defined benefit pension plan. Brothers and sisters: Together we are not going to allow that to happen. American Airlines is not a poor, struggling company. It is not going broke.

Last year, it made a net profit of $1.4 billion. This is a company that had enough money to pay its CEO, Doug Parker, over $19 million in compensation last year. This is a company that has enough money to buy back $15 billion of its own stock over a 5-year period. So, today, I say to the CEO of American Airlines: If you have enough money to buy back $15 billion of your own stock, you damn well have enough money to pay your union workers a decent wage with good benefits.”

Full remarks, as prepared, below:

Let me thank the 600,000 members of the Machinists Union for everything that you do.

You know, I know and everyone who understands American history knows that it was the trade union movement that built the middle class in this country – and it is the trade union movement that is going to rebuild the disappearing middle class in America once again.

And let me start off by being as clear as I can be. As someone who grew up in a working class family I know which side I am on. I know what it’s like to be in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck. And that’s why I’ve been on more union picket lines than I can remember, and that’s why I have a 100% lifetime pro union voting record.

My administration will make no apologies about it. We will be an administration for the working families of this country, not for the 1%. A Bernie Sanders administration will make it easier for workers to join unions, not harder. For the last 40 years in this country there has been a massive transfer of wealth that has gone from our working class to the very wealthiest people in this country.

Well, together we’re going to end that. We will not accept the current reality of the three wealthiest families in this country now owning more wealth than the bottom half of our country, of the top 1% now owning more wealth than the bottom 92% and 49% of all new income going to the top 1%. – at the same time as millions of workers are forced to work 2 or 3 jobs just to survive.

Brothers and sisters, over and over again, Donald Trump tells us that the U.S. economy is “absolutely booming,” the “strongest we’ve ever had” and “the greatest in the history of America.”

Well, that may be true for the members of his Mar-a-Lago country club where the price of admission has doubled to $200,000. For those folks and for the wealthiest people in our nation, Trump is right. The economy is really booming. In fact, the top one percent of our society is doing phenomenally well and has never, ever had it so good.

But for the middle class and working families of this country, the truth is that the economy is not so great.

Many of you will recall Donald Trump telling us that “companies are giving big bonuses to their workers because of the tax cut bill.”

Well, I know you will be shocked when I tell you that statement turned out to be not quite accurate.

Yes, over the past year, it is true that billionaires in America have seen their wealth go up by over $33 million – each and every day.

But since the Trump tax plan was signed into law, bonuses for the average worker have gone up, are you ready for this, by just 24 cents a day.

Let me repeat that. Each day since the Trump tax cut was signed into law, the average billionaire in America has seen a $33 million increase in wealth, while the average worker got an extra bonus of just 24 cents.

When we talk about a rigged economy that is exactly what we are talking about.

It is not acceptable that the top 25 hedge fund managers on Wall Street make nearly double what all of the 140,000 kindergarten teachers in America earn, while millions of kids go to over-crowded and under-funded schools.

No, Donald Trump, the economy is not “absolutely booming” when over half of workers live paycheck to paycheck – frightened to death about what happens to them financially if their car breaks down or their child becomes sick.

It’s not the “greatest” economy in “the history of America” when over 50 million American households cannot afford to pay for housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone each month without going into debt.

It’s not the “strongest” economy “we’ve ever had” when hundreds of thousands of young people are unable to go to college or a trade school because they cannot afford it, over 30 million Americans have no health insurance, one out of five Americans can’t afford the medicine prescribed by their doctors, and nearly 40 million Americans are living in poverty.

This is not an economy we should be proud of when we have the highest childhood poverty rate in the developed world and life expectancy in the U.S. has gone down for the third year in a row.

Now, let me say a word about an issue that does not get enough discussion in Washington – our nation’s retirement crisis.

In America today, about half of older Americans, those who are 55 and older, have no retirement savings.

For one out of every three senior citizens in America, the Social Security check they receive in the mail is their only source of income.

Twenty percent of seniors are trying to survive on an income of $13,500 a year or less. Think about that for a moment. How do you survive if you only have $13,500 a year to heat your home, pay the rent, buy your prescription drugs, put food on the table and fill up your gas tank? In the richest country in the history of the world, that is simply not acceptable.

So, I have a message to my Republican colleagues in the House and the Senate: No, we are not going to cut Social Security, we are going to expand Social Security so that every American can retire in dignity.

And, let us not forget, when we are talking about the retirement crisis we are not just talking about Social Security. If Congress does not get its act together, the earned pension benefits of more than 1.5 million workers and retirees in multi-employer pension plans could be cut by up to 60 percent.

Brothers and sisters, Let me be as clear as I can be: When a worker is promised a pension that promise must not be broken.

That’s why I will be re-introducing legislation to make sure that the pensions of everyone in a multi-employer retirement plan are not cut. Period.

Now, my Republican colleagues tell me that we can’t afford the $30 billion price tag of this bill.

Well, let me be clear: If we could find trillions of dollars to bail out the crooks on Wall Street ten years ago, please do not tell me that we can’t afford $30 billion to protect the pensions of Americans who have earned those benefits.

Brothers and sisters, let’s be honest. Corporate America and the billionaire class have been waging a 40-year war against the trade union movement in America.

When Donald Trump appoints some of the most anti-union members to the National Labor Relations Board – make no mistake about it, he is waging a war on workers.

When billionaires like the Koch brothers spend millions of dollars successfully lobbying for so-called “right to work” for less laws – they are waging a war on workers.

When companies threaten to shut down factories and businesses in America if their workers vote to form a union – they are waging a war on workers.

The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Why does the billionaire class and corporate America hate the trade union movement so much?

And the answer is pretty simple. In America today, union workers earn 22 percent more, on average, than non-union workers.

In America today, 72 percent of union workers have a defined benefit pension plan that guarantees an income in retirement compared to just 14 percent of non-union workers.

What the billionaire class understands is that if they can destroy the trade union movement in America there is nothing to stop them in their never-ending quest to have it all.

That is the war they are waging. And, working together, that is a war that they are going to lose.

In order to rebuild the middle class in America and create an economy that works for all of us, not just those on top, we have got to rebuild, strengthen and expand the trade union movement in America.

We need elected officials and candidates at every level to get serious about forcefully speaking out for unions. It’s not good enough for candidates to say they like “workers” or the “middle class.” We need to specifically and explicitly support trade UNIONS.

That’s why I am proud that our campaign staff is the first in American presidential campaign history to be unionized.

We need political leaders who don’t just say nice things about unions, and then sell out to corporate campaign contributors. We need political leaders who don’t just talk the talk, but who walk the walk – by standing with our union brothers and sisters on the picket lines – by standing with them in their organizing drives – and by standing with them in their fight for economic justice.

Brothers and sisters, that’s what I have been doing my entire life, including on this campaign. We have marched with technical workers in California, who are fighting against privatization. We have supported teachers protesting cuts to public education.

And today, I am proud to stand in solidarity with the machinists who are in contract negotiations with American Airlines.

Right now, American Airlines wants to slash the pay of its workers, outsource jobs, take away health care benefits, and abolish its defined benefit pension plan.

Brothers and sisters: That is absolutely unacceptable.

American Airlines is not a poor company. It is not going broke. Last year, it made a net profit of $1.4 billion.

This is a company that had enough money to pay its CEO, Doug Parker, over $19 million in compensation last year. This is a company that has enough money to buy back $15 billion of its own stocks over a 5-year period.

So, today, I say to the CEO of American Airlines: If you have enough money to buy back $15 billion of your own stocks, you damn well have enough money to pay your union workers a decent wage with good benefits. Go back to the negotiating table. Bargain in good faith. Treat your workers with the dignity and the respect they deserve.

Brothers and sisters, if we are serious about creating an economy that works for all of us, not just the top one percent, not only do we need to defeat Donald Trump and rollback his anti-union policies, we need to expand the trade union movement in America.

When we are in the White House, we are going to reject Donald Trump’s new attempt to make it easier to decertify airline and rail unions. And we are going to put pro-worker appointees on the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board.

When we are in the White House, we are going to reject Donald Trump’s efforts to gut Amtrak, and turn decent-paying union jobs into outsourced contract jobs. Instead, we are going to fully fund Amtrak and invest in high speed-rail.

When we are in the White House, we are going to pass the Workplace Democracy Act that I will be re-introducing in the Senate.

Under this legislation, when a majority of workers in a bargaining unit sign valid authorization cards to join a union, they will have a union. Period. End of discussion. And if employers refuse to negotiate in good faith, we will impose strong penalties on those companies.

Under this legislation, companies will no longer be able to ruthlessly exploit workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors or deny them overtime by falsely calling them a “supervisor.”

Under this legislation, we will end, once and for all, the disastrous “Right to Work” laws in 28 states by repealing section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act.

This year we have seen a right-wing think tank try to follow the disastrous Janus decision with another court case that could essentially impose right-to-work on the airline industry. In a Bernie Sanders administration, that will never, ever happen.

Brothers and sisters: In terms of the American economy, here is the bottom line. Over the past 40 years there has been an enormous transfer of income and wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest people in America.

If the distribution of income in America today was the same as it was in 1979, the typical family in America would have an income that is about $11,000 higher than is the case today. Instead, average workers have seen their wages stagnate for 43 years, while the rich keep getting richer.

Do you want to know why the American people are angry? That’s why they are angry.

We need an economy that works for all Americans, not just the top one percent. And here’s just a few things we have got to do.

We need to end a corrupt campaign finance system that allows billionaires to buy elections. Whether the billionaire class likes it or not, yes, we are going to overturn the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision and move to the public funding of elections.

We need to end voter suppression and make it easier for people to vote, not harder. When you turn 18 in America you should automatically be registered to vote. We need to make Election Day a national holiday. We need to end gerrymandering and restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.

We need to pass legislation which demands that large, profitable corporations and the wealthiest people in America pay their fair share of taxes.

It is absolutely insane and a national disgrace that corporations like Amazon, Netflix, General Motors, IBM, Federal Express, John Deere, and Berkshire Hathaway made billions in profits last year, but paid nothing in federal income taxes.

We need a just and rational tax system that stops providing tax breaks to corporations for shifting our jobs to China and our profits to the Cayman Islands.

Are you ready for a radical idea? When we are in the White House we are going to repeal Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to the top one percent and large corporations and use that revenue to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, bridges, railways, water systems, sewers, dams, and culverts. And when we do this, we will create up to 15 million good-paying jobs in the process.

If we are serious about helping the American worker and reducing the stress level of families, yes we will raise the minimum wage to a living wage – at least $15 an hour. It is not a radical idea to say that if you work 40 hours a week, you should not be living in poverty.

We also need to end the obscenity of women making just 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Women don’t want 80 cents. They want and they deserve the whole damn dollar. Equal pay for equal work.

Yes, we will join every major country on earth and guarantee health care as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare for All, single-payer system. Unions shouldn’t be forced to spend their entire lives negotiating with corporations over healthcare benefits when they could be spending time negotiating for higher wages, secure retirement benefits and a good vacation.

When we are in the White House, we are going to fundamentally re-write our failed trade policies to benefit workers, not just the CEOs of multinational corporations.

It is unacceptable that Donald Trump has awarded over $50 billion in lucrative government contracts to some of the biggest outsourcers in America. We need to be awarding contracts to companies that are creating jobs in America not sending them abroad.

Brothers and sisters: We have an enormous amount of work in front of us. But this is what I believe. If we stand together, if we don’t allow Trump and his friends to divide us up.

If we stand together as black and white, Latino, Asian American and Native American.

If we stand together as gay and straight, men and women, native born and immigrant.

If we stand together as rural and urban – north, south, east and west.

If we understand that there really is no such thing as blue state or red state, but states throughout the country where working people are struggling to survive.

If we stand together, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish.

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+6 # Robbee 2019-04-10 13:09
Sanders Calls for National Ban on Right to Work, Presses Candidates to Stand With Unions
By NH Labor News
09 April 19

- O U T S T A N D I N G ! - GO BERNIE!