AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Before Debate

President AFL-CIO


Good evening. My name is Richard Trumka, president of the 12.5 million member, 55 union AFL-CIO.


Our organization’s mission is simple. We raise the voices of working people—the 99 percent of Americans who make a living by getting up and putting in a hard day’s work.


We’re everywhere. We make this country run. We ARE this country, yet more and more, the economic and political rules have been rigged against us.


Today, here in Michigan, an autoworker woke up with a pain in her stomach, terrified that she’ll be the next to lose her job to NAFTA.


A single mother heard pundits talk about our great economy and wondered when that greatness would reach her paycheck. 


An immigrant worker was exploited and threatened with deportation for daring to speak up for safety on the job.


A nurse watched another patient walk away from medical care they couldn’t afford.


A coal miner worried about the urgent threat of climate change AND the urgent threat to his hard-earned pension. 


Today, in small towns and big cities, in factories and in offices, co-workers joined together, trying to make things better, fighting to organize a union, only to find their voices silenced by unrestrained corporate greed and century-old labor laws.


America’s working people, even with all our differences, are united by a common dream. We don’t measure success by election results. Our pursuit of happiness is defined by working hard to live well, passing something better on to our children and retiring with dignity and security.

Yet day after day, year after year and decade after decade, we have suffered countless injustices … countless insults to our dignity … all so the wealthiest CEOs could get even wealthier. Our economic rules have cheated us, and too often, our leaders have failed us. 


That must stop now.


Workers are on the move, protesting, organizing and bargaining for a better life. And we’re ready to do everything in our power to elect a leader who will make our cause their own.

Tonight, all across America, we’ll be listening for a candidate who will use the presidency to make our country work for working people … a candidate who will defend and strengthen our right to join a union … a candidate who will finally bring the era of corporate government to an end. We’re not settling for anything less.


Thank you.