Union boss Richard Trumka to accuse Republicans, businesses and insurers of ‘economic treason’
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Tuesday will accuse Republicans, private sector businesses and health insurance companies of “economic treason” in a red meat speech in Columbus, Ohio, to union members at their annual convention.
Trumka’s charge is centered on his anger at private sector business and corporations for sitting on capital — as much as $2 trillion by some estimates — instead of spending it to expand and create jobs, and at insurers for proposing rate hikes.
Business groups and leaders say that President Obama’s policies, namely the health-care overhaul and the financial regulation bill, have created massive uncertainty and are transforming hiring into the assumption of liability instead gaining an asset. Insurers who have announced rate hikes say that the health-care bill has increased their costs.
But Trumka will say it boils down to a more simple explanation: greed.
“Some of our politicians, and some of America’s biggest corporations have given up on America. Companies are sitting on $837 billion without creating jobs,” Trumka will say. “Banks are clutching a trillion dollars in profits without lending to small businesses and consumers. Too many companies aren’t investing in the future, or in the country that made them great. All they want to do is scrape every ounce of flesh from our hides — for their profit.”
“Well I say that is economic treason!” Trumka says.
“The big health insurance companies — the same ones that racked up tens of billions in profits last year and paid their CEOs megabucks — they say they need premium increases of 20 percent or more for no reason at all – except guess what? Greed,” Trumka will continue. “That’s economic treason!”
Trumka’s speech follows up a huge mailing by the AFL-CIO into several states, including Ohio.
The labor boss will go after several Republican politicians by name in his speech Tuesday, attacking Senate candidate Rob Portman, gubernatorial candidate John Kasich and congressional candidate Tom Ganley.
Here is the full text of Trumka’s prepared remarks:
Remarks by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka
27th Ohio AFL-CIO Convention
September 14, 2010
Hello, Ohio! It’s good to be back in the heartland with my brothers and sisters. Thank you, Joe [Rugola], for that introduction and for having me at this great gathering.
Most of you probably know that Joe and I go way back. He comes from my neck of the Pennsylvania woods, just one county over from my hometown. He’s a good man. He works hard. And he and Petee [Talley] know how to squeeze everything out of a dollar.
I know you’ll give them the support they need to keep the Ohio AFL-CIO strong for the future. And I know you’re ready to get to work now, too, because for the next 49 days we’d all better be ready to pitch-in, knock-down, and drag-out!
Our Ohio opponents are over-confident. They’re celebrating already. But if they want the election prize, they’ve got to come through us. Because the door to America’s future swings right here! Right through Ohio! They want to pass that threshold! But we’re standing in the way! Shoulder-to-shoulder!
Are you going to let them come back in our house? I didn’t think so!
This is where we live! Let’s stand together! Let’s fight together! And we’ll turn them back together!
Brothers and sisters, our vision for America is on the line. It’s a vision of a better, stronger future, a renewal of the American Dream — the dream that all of us can earn a fair portion of the good things in life, time with our families, an education for our children, a voice on the job, a comfortable retirement — even if we’re not rich.
It’s a vision of a society that honors work, respects every individual, and sows solidarity – not division.
Our best days are ahead of us! That’s what the American labor movement is all about.
But politicians on the other side—they don’t agree. They say what we seek is too much to ask. They say even with all our hard work and wealth, the richest nation on Earth can’t afford good wages anymore. That we can’t expect secure jobs or a good life for our children, or a decent retirement. That those days are behind us.
They say we can’t compete in the global economy. That we can’t aspire for better. That we’ve just got to take what’s given us, and like it.
Some of our politicians, and some of America’s biggest corporations have given up on America. Companies are sitting on $837 billion without creating jobs. Banks are clutching a trillion dollars in profits without lending to small businesses and consumers. Too many companies aren’t investing in the future, or in the country that made them great. All they want to do is scrape every ounce of flesh from our hides — for their profit.
Well I say that is economic treason!
The big health insurance companies – the same ones that racked up tens of billions in profits last year and paid their CEOs megabucks – they say they need premium increases of
20 percent or more for no reason at all – except guess what? Greed.
That’s economic treason!
Listen to this: After a banner year — $555 million in profits, and millions in bonuses — the corporate bosses of Mott’s – a 168-year-old company that’s as American as applesauce – are demanding cuts in their workers’ pay and benefits, because, they say – quote – workers are nothing more than “commodities” like “soybeans or oil.” Hey, they say, in a recession, wages go down.
It’s pure profiteering. Economic treachery!
This recession isn’t a natural disaster like a storm over Kansas! It’s man-made! And one of the men who made it is running for governor of Ohio! John Kasich is the poster child for those paper-pushing, job-killing Wall Streeters who tanked our economy and stole our pensions! Kasich is the problem!
John Kasich pressured Ohio pension officials to gamble on his unstable financial company, Lehman Brothers. Lehman went down. Ohio’s pension funds lost $480 million. And Kasich walked away with $1.1 million.
And Kasich is not alone. Senate candidate Rob Portman helped the Bush administration off-shore 100,000 Ohio jobs, while supporting tax breaks for companies that shipped jobs overseas.
How do you like that?
It gets worse: Tom Ganley in Akron – running against our own Rep. Betty Sutton – promises to – and I quote – “cut the Dickens” out of government programs.
That’s the same Tom Ganley whose Mercedes dealership made millions off the Cash for Clunkers program, but when it comes to the rest of us – he’s all “You’re on your own.”
Kasich, Portman and Ganley, equal one ugly future for America! It’s a bleak vision of a weak nation in decline.
That’s their true promise for America, hidden behind a wall of false populism and
We need economic patriots like Governor Ted Strickland, like U.S. Senate candidate and Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, and like Betty Sutton! Mary Jo Kilroy, Marcy Kaptur and the rest! And you’ve got real champions to fight for in the Ohio House and Senate.
We’re on the right path. Without the Obama recovery plan, we’d be in a full-blown depression. It’s small consolation to people sitting at home, or on the bench – but let’s remember the facts.
Obama reversed the Bush ban on PLAs, stood in the way of federal contractors who used government funds to block union organizing, passed a foundation for health insurance reform, and muscled Wall Street reform through a reluctant Congress. Our Secretary of Labor is hell-bent on stopping the misclassification of employees by cut-rate contractors, and we’ve seen job growth in the private sector for 8 straight months now – it’s not enough, but it’s a start.
A year ago, our president started safeguarding our tire industry from cheap Chinese imports, and it’s working. In one short year, domestic tire production increased almost 15 percent! That’s jobs! Right here in Ohio!
And tariffs have slammed shut the door on artificially cheapened foreign steel. We’ve seen workers called back to steel pipe mills, with more jobs on the way.
We’re on the right path—and we have to stick to the right path. Because good jobs are like a big snowball — when we get that ball rolling and the economy growing, we’ll see more good jobs. We’ll see blast furnaces coming back on line, manufacturing coming back to life with thousands of new jobs!
And with those good jobs, tax receipts will go up, cities, counties and states will have real budgets again!
This is no time to turn back to the corporate agenda that nearly created economic Armageddon— we’ve got to keep moving forward to rebuild our middle class, rebuild retirement security, and build a strong America for our children.
Brothers and sisters, there’s a way out of this mess, but it’s forward, not backward!
That’s why I say to the hand-wringers, to the naysayers, to the detractors, to the Party of No: If you don’t believe in America, get out of the way!
This election in Ohio isn’t just about 2010. It’s about who holds power – working people, or Wall Street and the big corporate interests — over the next decade, and beyond.
It’s 49 days until Election Day. It won’t be easy. But we understand hard work. We fight against the odds – and we win! That’s what we do. We’re union.
We know the anti-worker politicians and the corporations and the ideologues don’t want the union vote. They want us to stay home, frustrated and angry at Washington.
For two years that’s been the game plan from the Party of No – Stop all progress, stomp on hope, keep us down. But we’re still here.
We know what Rep. John Boehner will do if he gets the Speaker’s gavel – because he’s told us! He’ll privatize and cut Social Security, protect the corporations that send our jobs overseas, slash taxes for the super-rich. There will be no more extensions of unemployment benefits. No jobs legislation. No infrastructure spending. No Davis Bacon. No retirement security. No health care.
But Boehner won’t be Speaker of the House. Not on our watch! Because it’s going to come down to us and we’re going to make the difference — district by district, a few thousand votes, a few hundred votes. Those will be the margins — the difference we make.
Listen closely, it is solely within our control to re-elect Gov. Strickland. Period. We have the votes.
It won’t be the bankers who put America back together. It won’t be the Tea Partiers. It won’t be the Party of No.
It’ll be you. It’s going to be your vote. Your members. Your worksite leafleting. Your neighborhood walks. Your commitment to Labor 2010. Your programs.
It’ll be us. Are you ready to light a fire with your members? Are you ready to finish the job we started? Are you ready to fight for economic patriots and against the outsourcers and the corporate traitors?
Roll up your sleeves!
If you want it, you’ve got to work for it.
If you want it Made in America, you’ve got to work for it.
If you believe that America must invest in transportation and technology, education and the environment, work for it.
If you believe that Wall Street got us into this mess and now must pay its fair share of the costs to get us out, work for it.
Work for it. Stand for it. Stand together. March together. Fight together. Win together. And don’t let anyone—anyone—stand in our way.
Thank you…. God bless you…. and God bless America!