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Introductory Remarks by Change to Win Executive Director Greg Tarpinian

Monday, March 20, 2006

Change to Win Organizing Convention, March 20, 2006

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters!

My name is Greg Tarpinian. I am the Executive Director of Change to Win, and I want to welcome you to the history-making first Change to Win Organizing Convention.

We first made history last September when our unions decided to build a new labor federation for the first time in fifty years.

And next week we will make history when our new labor federation turns six months old. Six months. But we have accomplished so much in that time.

Last year we created a federation that took on the awesome responsibility of uniting millions of workers into unions in order to restore the American Dream.

We took on the challenge of raising wages and winning health care and retirement security for the tens of millions of workers who work hard and play by the rules but are not getting ahead.

Since that time -- six months ago -- we have put in place the building blocks needed to move our agenda to Restore the American Dream.

At our founding Convention, we pledged 75% of our federation's resources to large-scale organizing campaigns.

And we have done that.

We pledged to bring the resources of our seven unions together to build a mighty crusade to organize.

And we have done that.

Since September, our unions have collaborated as never before.

The leadership and staff of our unions are working together as never before.

We have integrated the organizing, global, political and capital power of our unions as never before.

And our unions have come together to support one another as never before all in the name of winning for American workers.

And we are having results.

We came together to support the Teamsters in their campaign to organize Quebecor in a nationwide blitz that included all of our affiliates.

We came together to support the Houston janitors and bring a major organizing victory for SEIU and the labor movement in the South.

We came together around the Hotel Workers Rising campaign -- with mass rallies across the country and blanket leafleting of over 100 hotels by all of our affiliates.

We came together around actions throughout our nation to expose the scourge of Wal-Mart and what it represents for America's future.

From Florida to California, from Michigan to Puerto Rico, our unions are coming together at the state and local level to support one another in organizing campaigns and in politics.

And here, this week, we have brought together for the first time in labor history nearly 2,000 organizers and leaders of our unions to discuss, together, our strategies for rebuilding the American labor movement and restoring the American Dream.

At this Convention, there is a give and take between the leaders and organizers of our unions that has never happened before.

We are seven unions representing nearly six million workers.

But we are no longer seven separate unions operating in seven different directions.

We are moving on one strategy and one direction together.

This Convention will develop the foundations for new campaigns to unite workers in new sectors -- with all of us working together to make those campaigns a success.

Over the course of the next months, we will unveil campaigns for health care and retirement security -- critical components of the fight to restore the American Dream.

In both cases, we will propose unconventional solutions -- solutions that recognize that the American economy has changed as capital has become global and our employer-based health care and pension systems have unraveled.

This week we are not only sharing experiences and developing new strategies but are defining Change to Win as we launch our campaign to "MAKE WORK PAY" in America.

When we talk about unorganized port truck drivers, meatpacking workers, janitors, housekeepers or construction workers, we are talking about one thing -- It's time to Make Their Work PAY!

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