Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Remarks for Secretary Hilda L. Solis
Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Union
Friday, August 10, 2012
Las Vegas, NV
Thank you for that warm welcome.
President Smith: Thank you for that kind introduction and for being an incredible partner in the fight for workplace justice.
Your leadership in our fight for fair wages, safer workplaces and a stronger economy has been invaluable. On behalf of President Obama and everyone at the Department of Labor, I'm grateful for this opportunity to come and say:
"Thank you!" Thank you for your leadership and your advocacy. Thank you to our glass makers. To our molders. To our brothers and sisters in metal, insulation, plastics and pottery. And yes, to our custodians, librarians and recorders. Thank you all for your commitment, your talent, your hard work and your public service to this country!
For 170 years, generations of working people have honored the proud tradition of this union. The tradition of crafting, building and delivering products that make life possible for the American people.
In so many ways, your work makes our world go round. Babies still need milk bottles. Households still need dining sets. And senior citizens still need containers for their medicine.
So, while technology has changed the way you work... your work product, and your work ethic, has remained the same. And while your members certainly have changed... your values have stayed that same. So congratulations on this anniversary and thank you for your commitment to this important work. You do America proud each and every day.
Your work at today's convention has never been more important. We've come so far in the last 3 ½ years, but we've still got a long way to go. We were bleeding 750,000 jobs a month when President Obama took office. But over the last 29 months, we've created 4.5 million private sector jobs. This includes 172,000 new private sector jobs in July and 1.1 million generated in 2012 alone. And the manufacturing sector continues to lead our recovery.
We still have a long way to go, but I don't know about you: I'm proud to work for a President who believes in American manufacturing. A President who believes in you and your trade. A President who stood up and said, "We can't just make it as a service economy, we need to make things here in America to make this economy work for everyone!"
That means creating an economy that makes things the world wants to buy. Not an economy built on outsourcing, loopholes and risky financial deals.
I don't have to sell you on this point. This union knows well how off-shoring can devastate working families, their communities and local economies. So many of your members have lived it. But, I will tell you this much: The Obama administration does not support outsourcing your jobs, slashing your wages, reducing your health benefits, or shrinking your pensions.
Over the last 30 months, our manufacturing sector has seen its largest job gains since 1989. We added 25,000 new manufacturing jobs last month alone. And we have a unique opportunity right now to build on that.
It's getting more expensive for companies to produce goods abroad and then ship them back for U.S. consumers to buy. But recently in the Senate, the other side blocked a vote to bring good American jobs back home.
We want to give companies a tax credit to help them move their operations back to the United States. It was full paid for by eliminating tax breaks for companies that move American jobs overseas. We believe in "in-sourcing." They believe in outsourcing. And I'll just say it flat out: We are right and they are wrong.
Right now, firms that outsource jobs can deduct their moving expenses and significantly reduce their tax burden. The result is fewer jobs here at home and less revenue to pay down our national debt.
I'll give you an example. Say a company decides to close a factory here in Nevada and move it overseas. This might require them to break down assembly lines and transport it abroad. If this process costs the firm $15 million, the company can write off moving expenses totaling $5.3 million.
Don't get me wrong. Companies that want to outsource jobs have a right to do so, but they shouldn't get a tax break for doing it. Under President Obama's plan, companies would no longer be able to write off a penny of their moving costs for sending American jobs to other countries.
When I tell workers about how our current federal tax policies actually reward companies that ship our jobs away, the reaction I hear is disbelief. But when I tell workers that President Obama has been trying to fix this, but can't find bipartisan support in the Congress, that disbelief quickly turns to anger.Well, we should be angry! Now is the time to bring American jobs home!
I know you agree. And I know the GMP is making its voice heard on this issue.
We can look to the incredible work you're doing with companies like the Homer Laughlin China Company in Newel, West Virginia. Since its very beginnings back in 1871, they've pledged to produce quality, American-made china and provide jobs for potters of the Ohio Valley. Today Homer Laughlin is a leading force in the foodservice china industry.
That's thanks to you to the dedication, talent and skill of the American worker. And it's thanks to the seat workers at Homer Laughlin have at the bargaining table. This is proof of what can be achieved when labor and management work together.
So yes, workers still need a voice on the job and a seat at the table to demand dignity and respect.
But some politicians think the only way to balance our budgets is to turn back the clock. They say, "We can't afford unions." Well, here's what I say: We can't afford to turn our back on the workers who clean our communities, build our homes, teach our children, care for our sick and patrol our streets. We can't afford to fall backward; progress is made by marching forward.
That's what we believe!
In states across the country, extremists have waged a full frontal assault on labor unions.
In states like Wisconsin and Ohio, governors are using the financial crisis as an excuse to take this country backward. But you and I know that's the wrong way to go. We know collective bargaining gives you that seat to demand safer working conditions, provide for your families and enjoy a middle class life.
President Obama understands that labor unions are not the cause of America's problems. You are a huge part of the solution. You're training the next generation of skilled workers through apprenticeship programs. You're fighting for secure retirements. You're fighting for high-quality affordable health care. And with the recent Supreme Court ruling, we're finally going to get it.
We've got millions of folks across the country facing real challenges and anxiety about how to make it from one day to the next. Most did everything right. They got a good job, worked hard and met their responsibilities. But too many have seen their jobs disappear through no fault of their own.
They never asked for a handout or a free lunch. All they ever wanted is a fair shot to do good work and get ahead. These folks deserve better. They deserve to get back to work. They deserve an America where if you work hard and do the right thing, you can buy a car, buy a home, send your kids to college and save for retirement.
That's the America you want. That's the America I want. And that's the America President Obama wants.
But some people in Washington you know who they are seem to want a different America. An America where the rich get richer and everyone else is left to fend for themselves. They have a different vision for this country.
They are rallying behind a budget plan that seeks to gut job placement and training programs at a time of economic challenge. They want to block us from working with employers to make workplaces safer. They want us to stop cracking down on wage theft, discrimination and worker misclassification. Congress should be lifting up working people, the long term unemployed, and the middle class. They need to grow an economy that works for everyone, not just for the privileged few.
My department has made historic investments to link job training to emerging sectors like clean energy, healthcare, IT and advanced manufacturing. And we've made millions of training dollars available to support innovation and create career pathways for those looking for work.
If we're going to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build our competitors, we need to re-train older workers, the long term unemployed and young people. That's why we need to keep the pressure on. A lot of people are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, even day to day.
So if some in Washington think this fight is over, we've got news for them: not this time. Not with so many Americans out of work. Not with so many folks in our communities hurting.
We know that every day our opponents win is another day our communities continue to suffer. Another day families continue to struggle. And another day our children lose out on a better future.
We're not going to let that happen, are we? Are we going to keep organizing? Are we going to keep growing? Are we going to keep building on the proud tradition of the GMP?
I know I am. The President will, too.
So I hope you will join me in helping us meet this moment. Let's show them once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.
Working together, there's no challenge we can't overcome. So let's get to work! Thank you, my friends. God bless you. God bless organized labor. And God bless the United States of America.