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Heather McGhee Address
State of the Union Address

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Heather McGhee President of Demos

(Paraphrased remarks by John Davis)

It is an honor to be here with you today. I would like to thank President Williams for his efforts to bring people together to focus on social issues. At one of these meetings at Black Lake, the participants were singing your anthem “Solidarity Forever.” As I was thinking about the words of that song, I noticed a lady wearing a t shirt that said “No One Fights Alone” and I thought how fitting the message of that shirt was, as we sang Solidarity Forever.

When you think about Americans struggling, many do struggle alone, they struggle with how to make their student loan payments, they struggle with to make their mortgage payments and they struggle with how to provide for their families. When we look at the history of organized labor, in the early days workers were divided. The Polish from the Italians, the Chinese and many other groups, all divided to dilute their power. Once these groups learned to put the differences aside and to concentrate on what they had in common, their power grew. They learned to work together for the betterment of all.

You in the UAW understand what solidarity means. Unfortunately, in America too many don’t understand what solidarity means. The wealthy and powerful are successfully dividing the rest of us so they can make the rules. They profit from the division they create. They profit from the kickbacks from a tax scam that rewards those with much, while they defund our schools, they hurt our communities and shift cost to those around you. Your friends and your family shoulder the tax burden while billionaires brag about not paying taxes.

Brothers and sisters we are fed up with their bragging. We are fed up with corporations who take tax cuts and invest in dividends instead of workers. We are fed up with families struggling in jobs that don’t pay a living wage. We are fed up new jobs that don’t compensate workers in a manner that allow them to raise a family.

Those who profit are successful in getting too many of the rest of us to point fingers at one another instead of them. We get caught up in blaming those who have not created our economic issues. They divide us by what we look like, by where we come from and the expressions of our faith. Some politicians want us to blame refugees; they want us to blame those who suffer from the very decisions made by the rich and powerful. We blame those who have nothing.

Corporate bosses divide us in plants when we try to organize. At Nissan in Mississippi, bosses told white workers the UAW only stood with black workers.  When workers are divided by these tactics then we fight alone. When those in power are successful in painting everyone with the same brush, we are divided and stand alone.

The time has come for us to support politicians who believe in solidarity forever. Wouldn’t it be great if this nation adopted your great motto of “Solidarity Forever.” We need a country where government and business work together to make sure we have a living wage, health care for all, clean water, clean air and to be sure that all Americans needs are met.

We need not just jobs but good jobs that provide our workers with the means to raise their families. But I am here to tell you we can’t do it alone. We need to get back to where freedom is for everyone. We have to get passed standing alone, not allow ourselves to be divided and fight together. You in the UAW understand this and this country need to adopt your motto of “Solidarity Forever.”




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