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Elizabeth Warren AFL-CIO Labor Remarks Release

Elizabeth Warren AFL-CIO Labor Remarks Release

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Published by masslive
In a speech delivered at the opening of the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., talked up the contributions of labor unions in America while taking a swipe at the current composition of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a speech delivered at the opening of the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., talked up the contributions of labor unions in America while taking a swipe at the current composition of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Published by: masslive on Sep 09, 2013
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10/05/2013

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EMBARGOED FOR DELIVERY / 4:30pm PT, 7:30pm ET
September 8, 2013
Remarks by Senator Elizabeth WarrenAFL-CIO ConventionLos Angeles Convention Center
 As Prepared for Delivery
It’s great to be able to be here with you – even if just for short time. I was just in Washington for a classified briefing on Syria, and I’m headed right back to participate in the Senate debate andthe vote on military intervention. But it was very important to me to be here with you today, sothank you all for inviting me.To Rich Trumka and my old friend Damon Silvers, to Steve Tolman, Lou Mandarini, and all myfriends from Massachusetts, and to all of you who are here today, thank you for your hard work and, most of all, thank you for your friendship. I would not be here today as the Senior Senator from Massachusetts without your extraordinary support.I’ve also got to give a special shout out to the operating engineers – my brother’s union for manyyears. My brother has a pension today because of your work!I love being here with labor. It reminds me of a family reunion. Lots of roughhousing.Occasional arguments. Plenty of food. But ultimately, in a family we know we’ve got eachother’s back.But there’s another reason I love being here with labor. When I’m here, I know I’m with peoplewho stand up for working families all across this country.When important decisions are made in Washington, too often, working families are ignored.From tax policy to retirement security, the voices of hard-working people get drowned out by powerful industries and well-financed front groups. Those with power fight to take care of themselves and to feed at the trough for themselves, even when it comes at the expense of working families getting a fair shot at a better future.This isn’t new. Throughout our history, powerful interests have tried to capture Washington andrig the system in their favor. But we didn’t roll over. At every turn, in every time of challenge,organized labor has been there, fighting on behalf of the American people.At the beginning of the 20
th
Century, when factories were deathtraps, when owners exploitedworkers and children, and when robber barons amassed the kind of power and influence thatmade them think they were modern day kings, the American people came together under theleadership of progressives to bring our nation back from the brink. And labor was there, leadingthe way. 
 
Labor was on the front lines to take children out of factories and put them in schools. Labor wasthere to give meaning to the words "consumer protection" by making our food and medicinesafe. Labor was there to fight for minimum wages in states across this country.Powerful interests did everything they could to block reform. But our agenda was America’sagenda, and we prevailed.A generation later, when our country was mired in the Great Depression, when people were on bread lines and looking for work, we fought back. We created jobs by investing in infrastructureand public works. We brought light and power to our poorest and most remote areas. Weestablished federal laws on wages and hours. We enshrined into law the right to organize. Wemade banking boring and put real cops on the beat on Wall Street. And because we believedthose in old age should not be mired in poverty, we created Social Security. And all along that journey, labor was there, leading the way.Once again, the powerful interests did everything they could to stop it. But our agenda wasAmerica’s agenda, and we prevailed.When political injustice threatened to break our democracy, members of the labor movementwere there, working for jobs and freedom, marching right alongside the Reverend Dr. King,fighting together for the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.When hard working families were getting squeezed, labor was there, fighting alongside our  beloved Ted Kennedy, and now we have the Family and Medical Leave Act, we have the LillyLedbetter Act, and we have continued to protect Medicare.And in 2008, when the economy crashed and it was time to reign in financial predators and WallStreet banks, labor was there—you were there—standing shoulder to shoulder with me, standingwith President Obama, and fighting for consumer protection. And thanks to those efforts, wenow have a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – with a confirmed Director to lead it.And just so everyone knows, that little agency has already returned half a billion dollars tofamilies who were cheated by big financial institutions and helped tens of thousands of consumers solve their problems with big banks.In every fight to build opportunity in this country, in every fight to level the playing field, inevery fight for working families, we have been on the front lines because our agenda isAmerica’s agenda.But let’s be clear, we have always had to run uphill. We have had to fight for what we’veachieved. Powerful interests have done everything they can to block reform. They attackedSocial Security and Medicare. They attacked pensions and public employees. They attacked bank regulation and consumer protection.The powerful interests have attacked so many of the basic foundations that built a strong middleclass – and too many times, they have prevailed.
 
Even today, our work is uphill. The powerful interests fight us on every battlefield they can.Look at the increasing corporate capture of the federal courts.According to a recent study, the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Courtare in the top ten most pro-corporate justices in a half century – and Justices Alito and Robertsare numbers one and two – the most anti-consumer in this entire time.
1
The Chamber of Commerce is now a major player in the Supreme Court, and its win rate has risen to 70% of allcases it supports.
2
 Follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.Look at where we are on the “Too Big to Fail” problem.Five years ago, experts said the banks had to be bailed out because there was too muchconcentration in banking and one failure would bring down the entire economy. Now the four  biggest banks are 30% larger than they were five years ago. The five largest banks now holdmore than
half 
of all banking assets in the country. Because investors know they are too big tofail, those big banks get cheaper borrowing, which, according to one study, adds up to an annual$83 billion subsidy from taxpayers—another benefit of being Too Big to Fail.What about reform? The Dodd-Frank Act was an incredibly important achievement, but since it passed, the big banks and their army of lobbyists have fought every step of the way to delay,water down, block, or strike down regulations. When a new approach is proposed – like my billwith John McCain, Angus King, and Maria Cantwell to bring back Glass-Steagall – you knowwhat happens – they throw everything they’ve got against it.One more: take a look at what’s happening with trade deals.For big corporations, trade agreement time is like Christmas morning. They can get special giftsthey could never pass through Congress out in public. Because it’s a trade deal, the negotiationsare secret and the big corporations can do their work behind closed doors. We’ve seen whathappens here at home when our trading partners around the world are allowed to ignore workersrights, wages, and environmental rules. From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters, and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the upcoming trade deals intheir favor.Why are trade deals secret? I’ve heard people actually say that they have to be secret because if the American people knew what was going on, they would be opposed. Think about that. I1
Lee Epstein, William M. Landes, & Richard A. Posner,
 How Business Fares in the Supreme Court 
, 97 M
INN
. L.
EV
. 1431, 1450-51 (2013),
available at 
http://www.minnesotalawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/EpsteinLanderPosner_MLR.pdf.
2
Doug Kendall & Tom Donnelly,
 Not So Risky Business: The Chamber of Commerce's Quiet Success Before the Roberts Court - An Early Report for 2012-2013
, C
ONST
. A
CCOUNTABILITY
C
TR 
., (May 1, 2013),
available at 
http://theusconstitution.org/text-history/1966/not-so-risky-business-chamber-commerces-quiet-success-roberts-court-early-report.

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