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Remarks By Change to Win Chair Anna Burger

Monday, March 20, 2006

Change to Win Organizing Convention, March 20, 2006

Thanks for coming to Las Vegas. This is an exciting event for us. We have more than 2,000 leaders, organizers, members and supporters here this week to begin creating an ongoing, sustainable campaign to Make Work Pay.

Our "Make Work Pay" campaign will help unite the 50 million workers in jobs that will continue to provide vital services in our communities in the coming years: in transportation, distribution, retail, construction, leisure and hospitality, health care, property services, laundries, food production and processing, and other services.

Our goal is to make these jobs into good, middle class jobs that can sustain families and contribute to communities -- in short to help these hard working men and women reach the American Dream.

The American dream is really pretty simple. It's a job that pays a decent living wage, provides health care benefits and retirement security, and gives us a shot at providing our kids with opportunity for a good education.

But we can no longer count on the American Dream.

A lot of the jobs that used to provide this kind of opportunity have gone overseas. Lots of other jobs are with employers who don't provide the level of wages and benefits that can provide families with the American Dream.

Our government can't fix this problem.

Workers can't fix it on their own.

Only when we come together and use the power of six million workers -- or fifty million workers -- can we raise the standard of living for all workers and ensure the preservation of the middle class and the American Dream.

We need to remember that manufacturing jobs weren't always the good middle class jobs that they have been in the past few decades. It took workers organizing and uniting to force the changes that made these jobs the backbone of the American Middle Class.

What we are doing here in Las Vegas is creating an action plan to make that same kind of change happen in industries such as hotels, food service and production, trucking and construction.

We're organizing across entire sectors and bringing the strength of all of our unions and all of our members to bear.

We're going to reach out to those workers who are not yet organized and to the members of the general public that understand and support the idea that this country can't exist without a vibrant middle class.

We're calling this effort the "Make Work Pay" campaign.

It's a little different from other organizing campaigns that have been done in the past. Truth is we've always done campaigns -- but we've done them individually. Union by union. And we still have these campaigns. But now, as we work on these individual campaigns, we will be tying our work together and make it all add up to something bigger. That's what the Make Work Pay campaign is all about.

In every campaign, no matter what union, we will be telling the world that working people are uniting to "make work pay."

Our "Make Work Pay" campaign is about uniting the 50 million people who work in jobs that will continue to provide vital services in our communities in the coming years.

We know we can't do it alone -- corporations are global and so must we be. That's why we're uniting with unions in other countries. We want to make global corporations raise living standards and respect workers' rights everywhere -- rather than dragging them down to the lowest level everywhere.

We are going to "Make Work Pay" and Restore the American Dream for everyone!

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The great American middle class wasn’t something that just happened – it was built brick by brick. It was built by soldiers returning from war and a government that repaid them by giving them a shot at college.