Day 2 Photo Gallery
State of the Union Address
House Democratic Leader Speech to UAW
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Greetings from Washington! I am sorry I can’t be with you in Las Vegas today.
For 600,000 active members, and for more than 70 years, the UAW has been a fierce fighter for fair wages, pensions, and healthcare plans.
In large measure that’s due to your visionary leaders:
President Ron Gettelfinger – in your three years as President of UAW, you have helped steward your members through difficult times, and have been a true fighter for America’s working families.
Alan Reuther – the members of UAW could have no better advocate on Capitol Hill than you.
I would also like to recognize some fellow Northern Californians:
Pat Caccamo -the International Representative National CAP Department of Region 5 UAW from Fremont, California
Carl Jaramillo - Vice President of the UAW Northern Area CAP Council
My colleague and our friend, Congressman George Miller, recently held an e-hearing entitled, “The American Automobile Industry in Crisis: Threats to Middle-Class Jobs, Wages, Health Care and Pensions”
American workers, just like all of you, logged on to share their experiences, hopes, and fears. On my way over here, I was thinking about what some of them had to say.
Russ in Michigan wrote: “I am a second generation UAW skilled trades employee and...I personally believe we have the best workforce in the world. [But] I have never seen such vicious attacks on working class America as I see today.”
John in Ohio: “Working for GM for 32 years was to me a privilege and an honor, but today that is trying to be turned into a mistake and something dishonorable. Please pass some legislation making jobs, health coverage and pensions more secure for the people that built this country into what it is.”
Todd in my home state of California: “I've been a General Motors/Delphi employee for 22 years and…have a son that is a junior in high school. He's a good student earning all A's and B's. He often talks about attending UCLA. As a dedicated hard working veteran of General Motors/Delphi, shouldn't my son be able to realize his dreams?”
It’s true: these are perilous times for American workers. Corporations are trying to shirk the promises they made to their employees. Union workers are struggling to hold onto union jobs. Non-union workers are facing threats to their right to organize.
We can stand strong by standing together. Democrats will protect America’s workers ability to stand together with the right to organize. 57 million American workers say they would join a union if they had the chance. But, too often, they face harassment, intimidation, and coercion when they try to exercise that right.
That is why Democrats are fighting to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, introduced by George Miller in the House and Ted Kennedy in the Senate. As of today, we have 200 Democrats as cosponsors. This bill is a guarantee – it says that when a majority of workers say they want a union, they will get a union.
A challenge facing our nation is how to preserve our manufacturing and industrial base. UAW can be on the forefront of that fight and saving our auto industry by leading the way to energy independence.
We have the potential to leapfrog other countries with new and bold technology. We can energize America with farmers fueling our energy independence. We have the opportunity to send our energy dollars to the midwest, not the Mideast; to rural America, not the Persian Gulf.
We must expand the resources dedicated to development and deployment of new American-made fuel efficient technologies and their key components, including hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
Not only will we save an industry for our country, but you will be promoting our national security, protecting our environment, and preserving American jobs. UAW, Democrats, and the private sector have an important job to do – but together, we can achieve energy independence, and we intend to do it within 10 years.
The UAW has always been on the forefront of change. In every piece of major civil rights legislation since the 1950’s, the UAW has stood shoulder to shoulder with Democrats. Just as you did for the Civil Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act, you are doing now for this year’s reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.
Congress must act quickly to enact the bipartisan, bicameral Voting Rights Act Reauthorization, which strengthens and renews the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years. This bill reaffirms an enduring principle of our democracy: that every vote counts, and every vote must be counted. No delays or efforts to weaken this bill should be tolerated and it should be promptly sent to the President for his signature.
Democrats are preparing to win and ready to govern. On the first day we control Congress, we have bold initiatives to energize Americans and move our country in a new direction.
Democrats will make our nation safer. We
will begin by passing the bipartisan, independent 9/11 Commission recommendations.
We will introduce this legislation on our first day. We will pass this legislation in our first week.
Tomorrow, Democrats in the House and Senate will have more to say about our vision of a New Direction for America.
It’s a New Direction that benefits all Americans, not the privileged few.
You should know that central to that new direction is repealing tax giveaways that encourage companies to move jobs overseas. No longer should the American worker have to subsidize sending their job to a lower paid worker in another country.
We have the plans. We have the message. We have the candidates who can win. And we’ve got something else: We have all of you. Together, we’ll usher in a new era of victories for working people.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.
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