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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks for Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Labor Day Speech
September 5, 2011
Detroit, Michigan

Happy Labor Day, Detroit! It's great to be back in the Motor City with all of you, with President Trumka, with all of our union leaders, and my former Congressional colleagues.

What an exciting time to be in Detroit! The auto industry is roaring back... And President Obama's in the house!

Are you fired up? Ready to go? I know I am!

The President could have chosen any city in America to spend Labor Day, but he wanted to be here with you. A city that gave birth to America's middle class... A city that's full of talent... A city that never gives up. And, has Ganas!

Detroit, you are proof that when America innovates... when America builds... America wins.

Is the UAW here today? Let me hear you! America owes you — and the entire labor movement — so much.

You not only give us the world's greatest cars, you stood up — and sat down! — for good jobs for everyone and you built the social safety net we're fighting so hard to keep intact.

You said a lifetime of hard work ought to mean something, that working people deserve the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families

Today, on Labor Day, our struggle continues. We know these are tough economic times. But that's no excuse for what's happening in states across the country — in Wisconsin, Ohio and right here in Michigan.

Some politicians say that we can't afford unions right now... that labor unions are the problem in this country. I think they've got it just plain wrong. Unions helped build America's middle class. They are now — and always will be — part of the solution.

My parents taught me that. I'm the daughter of a Teamster and a Steelworker. I know what it means to be union proud. It's a voice at the table to negotiate good wages, health benefits, safe working conditions and a chance at the middle class!

It's about working hard, taking care of each other, and fighting for what's right. It's like Aretha Franklin says: It's about getting some of that R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

That's why President Obama and I continue to speak out against governors who want to take our country backward by attacking workers rights. This is no time to be attacking collective bargaining for public sector workers: our firefighters, police officers and teachers, and all our public servants!

This is no time to be undermining project labor agreements that improve efficiency. Working people want to get back to work — not divisive "right to work" laws. We know that's the wrong way to go.

Our communities still need a voice at work and a voice at the ballot box. We will not let our voice to be suppressed!

I know there are a lot of autoworkers back to work here in the great Motor City I've seen this for myself and met many of you at the Chevy plant, at the Ford plant, at all of the Big Three. I know we all want to thank President Obama for his bold action to save the auto industry — to say we are going to make things here in America and save and create good manufacturing jobs. That's what this administration is fighting for!

I know times are still tough for too many workers in Michigan and across the nation. That's why we need Congress to work with us to take common sense action to create jobs. President Obama is going to take his case straight up to Capitol Hill this week.

It won't be easy. We know some will fight us and say "no." Sometimes, it seems they say "no" to almost anything that will help working people. Some will say we can't afford to invest in our workforce, that we can't afford to rebuild our roads and our schools, or that we can't afford the social safety net you fought so hard to create.

But here's what we'll say back: We can't afford not to rebuild this great country. We can't afford to turn our backs on the working families who make America great.

So on this Labor Day, for all working people, the millions looking for work, and their children and grandchildren who depend on them, I say: let's not lose heart. Let's stand with our President in the tough fight ahead. He's got your back, so let's have his.

And let's remember the sacrifices of those who came before us, as we honor the American worker in this great city in the greatest country in the world. Thank you, Detroit. Happy Labor Day. God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America.