In the months since BAC members received the last Journal, well-funded corporate interests and their hand-picked politicians have been methodically trying to crush the union rights that we, and those who came before us, fought so hard to win.
Few have captured the essence of these assaults on working people – whether repealing collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, pushing “Right to Work for Less” laws, or restricting Project Labor Agreements and prevailing wage protections – more accurately or eloquently than Rev. Cletus Kiley at the national Building Trades Legislative Conference in April (Father Riley’s remarks appear below).
In Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, in state after state and city after city, the actions of BAC Locals and ADCs in recent weeks (see pages 10-12) confirm our Union’s readiness to act to defend the rights of all union members. And at this watershed moment in the history of the U.S. labor movement, the IU Executive Board calls on every BAC member to join us in our common quest for jobs, justice and decency, ever mindful that “an injury to one is an injury to all.”
We will not be quiet. Something has gone awry in this land…We must speak. We must act.
There was a time in this country when a man who worked hard could count on a fair day’s pay. But not today! There was a time in this country when, after a lifetime of hard work, a man could look forward to retirement. But not today! There was a time in this country when we respected the women and men who worked in our schools, protected our cities, made our levels of government work. But not today! Today somebody has changed the rules. And we will not be silent about it!
First came the Wall Street gamblers who crippled our economy, gave themselves obscene bonuses and began the great lie that those to blame were Labor unions and the Middle Class! This is a lie and we will not be silent about it!
When they couldn’t fool us on that one, they blamed the immigrants, and pitted working people against each other trying to wreak havoc on a level playing field for workers. When we saw that for what it is, they demonized our public sector unions. And we can only wonder, aren’t our unions next?
Today they balance their budgets on the backs of the working class. Tax breaks go to the ultra wealthy. General Electric doesn’t even pay a dime. They say our unions have too much voice in political life, but pretend that we don’t see the hand of the Koch brothers and other billionaires underwriting their efforts.
Oh yes… something has gone terribly awry in the American House! But today we will not be silent about it!
As you gave the prophet the courage to speak out, so give us that same courage… For the working people of this country the stakes have never been higher. As you gave the prophet a righteous anger, so let righteous anger pour down upon this house this morning! We have had enough! We are Labor. We are the Building Trades. We are America’s working people and WE ARE ONE!
We will not go quietly into that dark night. We will not be silent.
Today, guided by your vision, we say it is time for a new social contract in this country! And we are going to make it happen!
So bless us now with courage. Bless us with righteous anger. For today we will not be quiet! Today, WE ARE ONE, and… we will act.”
[To watch Father Kiley’s speech, go to http://on.fb.me/KileyatBCTD.]
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