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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
AFL-CIO Next Up Conference
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Minneapolis, MN

Thank you! Good evening everyone!

It's great to be here!

It's always great to be with labor... to be with young people!

Wasn't that a wonderful introduction by Lorenso, everyone? Let's give it up for him one more time. Lorenso, thank you for your good work and for the example you're setting for young people across the country.

I understand you're from my home state of California. So I hope none of you will mind me saying that some pretty good things have come from the Golden State over the years! Any Californians in the house today?!

I also want to thank my sister and true partner in fighting for working families, Liz Shuler. In Spanish, we call women like you "luchadoras" — strong women who fight on and let nothing stand in their way. So thank you for fighting on, and for providing inspiration to my work as Labor Secretary.

Right off the bat, I have to thank each and every young person in this room — students, organizers, union leaders, employed, unemployed — all of you. Even in the toughest of times for organized labor, you've kept organizing. You've kept training. You've kept growing. You've kept fighting on for fairness, opportunity and the values that created the middle class in this country.

I know it hasn't been easy. Fighting for change never is — especially when times are tough.

We've gone through an unprecedented time in our history. We have not seen anything like this in our lifetimes — a financial crisis that is as bad as anything since the Great Depression, followed by a recession that is deep and lasting and has hurt a lot of people.

I know many of you are in school, working two or three jobs. Some of you are raising your own kids and trying to figure out how to put food on the table. Others are spending hours online and at job fairs looking for work while trying to make rent and pay off student loans.

Many of you have done everything right — got good grades, got a good job and worked hard. But too many of you, have seen those jobs disappear through no fault of your own. You are teachers, construction workers and small business owners who don't want a hand out or a free lunch. You just want a fair shake.

You want to get back to work. You see your whole lives ahead of you and all you want is the same opportunity your parents had.
You want an America where if you work hard, meet your responsibilities and do right by your community, you can get a good job with a good wage and get ahead. You can buy a car, buy a house and save for retirement.

That's the America you want. That's the America President Obama wants. And that's' the America I want.

That's why you're here today. That's why you keep fighting on.

And you need to know that we're with you in this fight. President Obama and I — this entire administration — we are with you.

From the beginning we've been operating on a fundamentally different premise than that of our Republican friends.

We believe that a strong U.S. economy depends on a strong, growing middle class. And developing a strong middle class depends on a vibrant and organized labor movement.

That's why we we've stood up against those who are trying to strip you of your right to collectively bargain. It's why we've fostered union apprenticeship programs and invested billions in community colleges and job training programs.

And it's why we fought to pass healthcare reform — so that nobody in America goes broke because they get sick. Right now, almost 1 million young people have health insurance because they're able to stay on their parent's plan.

Now, those have all been tough fights. But we've still got a long way to go. We've got a lot of work to do to make sure that every American has a shot at success. And that's where we need your help.

In the short-term, that means helping President Obama pass the American Jobs Act.

It's been three weeks since the President introduced this bill to Congress. In that time, he's traveled across the country to make sure the American people know what's in it for them — more jobs, more money in your pocket and more resources to put you back to work.

This morning, I took that message with me to the 10th Avenue Bridge right here in Minneapolis. I spoke to small business owners, contractors and construction workers who desperately need Congress to pass this bill.

We've got 2 million construction workers who lost their jobs in the recession. Let's put them back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools. They're ready. Let's put them back to work right now rebuilding America. We need to pass the jobs bill. We need your help to tell Congress to pass this jobs bill right now!

And look, this should be a no-brainer for Congress. The ideas in the President's plan are ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past. There's no reason for them not to support them now.

We're laying off police officers and firefighters all across the country because state and local budgets are tough. Tell Congress to pass this bill so we can keep these public servants on the job.

Tell them to pass this bill for our nation's teachers.

If we're going to be successful in a 21st century economy, then we've got to make sure our kids are trained. Yet we're laying teachers off, while countries abroad are hiring them up.

Does that make any sense? It's unfair to our kids. It is unfair to our future. And if we pass this jobs bill, we can keep thousands of teachers in the classroom where they belong. Pass this jobs bill.

Tell Congress to pass this bill for our small businesses so we can give them tax cuts for hiring our veterans, older workers and the long-tem unemployed. They can't wait anymore! Pass this bill!

We've got millions of unemployed Americans and young people looking for work. Let's get Congress to pass this bill and extend unemployment insurance so that more than six million Americans don't lose that critical lifeline.

Let's push reforms that help the long-term unemployed keep their skills sharp and get a foot in the door. And let's provide summer jobs to thousands low-income youth that don't just give them their first paycheck, but arm them with the skills they need for life.

Friends, let's fight on. For our future, the future our children and the future our nation as a whole, let's fight on and let's get this bill passed.

We need you now more than ever.

You know how to get this bill passed. And you know that the time to act is now. Brothers and sisters, it's time to get off the sidewalk and into those streets.

We need each and every one of you to go home and talk to your elected officials and talk to your members of Congress. Email them, tweet them, find them on facebook.

We need you to lift your voices in your workplaces, in your neighborhoods and at your churches.

And not just about creating jobs. We're going need your voices to reform our immigration system, to reform our education system and to once and for all pass the DREAM Act!

We need you to engage new workers and new allies to build stronger organizations. We need you to keep organizing, keep training and keep growing.

We need young people to help us build a movement for change outside of Washington. One that's bigger. One that our opponents cannot stop.

And I know it can be done.

Throughout our nation's history, from the women's movement, to the labor movement to environmental movement and the civil rights movement, young people have always fought on for social change. Young people don't give up.

So I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to make some history.

I'm fired up!

I'm ready to fight on. President Obama is ready to fight on. With patience and determination we're going to fight on for jobs. We're going to fight on for our children. We're going to fight on for all those families who are struggling right now.

We haven't got a person to lose or a second to spare. And I know your going to fight with us, right? I know you are! We've got work to do, guys. Let's get to it!

Thank you for having me here. Thank you for all that you're doing. Keep it up and have a wonderful conference!