I want to thank United Steelworkers Local 1999 for endorsing my campaign for president. And I want to thank the Steelworkers for being one of the great unions in this country. We all know that the only hope for the future of this country is when working people stand together. That’s what your union is about. And that’s what you’re doing today.
I’m here today to tell all of you that I intend to do everything that I can to prevent United Technologies from shutting down their plants in Indianapolis and Huntington and throwing 2,100 workers out on the street and moving to Monterey, Mexico, where they will pay workers $3 an hour.
This is not acceptable. This is the kind of corporate behavior that is destroying the middle class of this country – and it has got to end.
The greed of United Technologies is almost unbelievable. You can’t make this stuff up. They have no shame.
This is a company that in 2014 provided its retired CEO, Louis Schenevert, with a golden parachute of $172 million – including a pension worth $31 million. And they apparently got rid of him because he was doing a bad job! Imagine what they would have given him if he was doing a good job.
This is a company that could afford to pay its new CEO more than $14 million in total compensation last year.
This is a company which made a profit of more than $7 billion last year.
This is a company that received $6 billion in defense contracts last year from the taxpayers of this country.
And this is a company that has received more than $58 million in corporate welfare from the Export-Import Bank. That is unacceptable.
This is a company that in 2009 received $121 million in federal tax credits designed specifically to keep green manufacturing jobs in the United States.
Today, we need to send a very loud and very clear message to the CEO of United Technologies: Stop the greed. Stop destroying the middle class in America. Respect your workers. Respect the American people.
If United Technologies wants to receive another defense contract from the taxpayers of this country, it must not move these plants to Mexico.
If United Technologies refuses to keep these jobs in Indiana, it should pay back all of the corporate welfare it has received from the taxpayers of this country.
Let’s be clear, however. What United Technologies is doing here in Indiana is what corporate America has done throughout this country over the last 35 years.
The truth is that our trade policies with Mexico, China and other countries have been a disaster. These policies, written by corporate America, have cost us millions of jobs in virtually every state in this country and have led to a race to the bottom.
Since the passage of NAFTA in 1994, Indiana alone has lost 113,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs.
Look around Indiana and you will find once vibrant and strong manufacturing towns like Gary, South Bend, Muncie, Bloomington, Indianapolis and Evansville shattered by abandoned factories, shut down steel mills, sky-high poverty rates and foreclosed homes.
You do not have to have a PhD in economics to understand that our unfettered free trade policies have failed. We need new trade policies in this country, policies that are designed to protect the interests of American workers, not just the compensation-packages of corporate CEOs.
We need to end the race to the bottom and enact trade policies that demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.
And we need to stop China from dumping steel into this country by establishing strong countervailing tariffs.
If corporate American wants us to buy their products, they have got to start making those products in Indiana and Vermont and all over America, not just in Mexico or China.
We need to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent. We need to create an economy which does not allow the top 1 percent to own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent. We need an economy that does not allow the top 1 percent to earn 58 percent of all of the new income in America today.
We need to increase the wages of at least 53 million American workers by raising the minimum wage from a starvation wage of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour.
At a time when women workers earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, we need pay equity in our country. We need to sign the Paycheck Fairness Act into law. Equal pay for equal work.
We need to create at least 13 million new jobs over the next five years rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, dams, culverts, railways, airports, broadband and electric grid. And we will make sure that all of the steel that goes into this $1 trillion jobs plan is made in America, not in China.
We need to expand collective bargaining rights for private sector and public sector workers and we need to make it easier for workers to form a union. When a majority of workers sign valid authorization cards in support of a union, they must have a union. Workers who are able to collectively bargain for higher wages and benefits earn substantially more than non-union workers.
We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity.
We need to make health care a right for every man, woman, and child through a Medicare for All single-payer health care system.
We need to make sure that every worker in this country has at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; two weeks of paid vacation; and one week of paid sick days.
We need to make public colleges and universities tuition free and substantially reduce student debt. And we will pay for that by imposing a speculation tax on Wall Street.
At a time when over half of all older workers have no retirement savings, we’re not going to cut Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security so that every worker can retire with dignity and respect.
We need to prevent companies from cutting the pensions of more than 1.5 million workers in multi-employer pension plans. Corporations must not be allowed to renege on the pension promises they made to their workers.
We need to break up too-big-to-fail banks, restore Glass-Steagall, and demand that Wall Street invests in the job-creating productive economy.
Now, the truth is that no president, not Bernie Sanders, or anybody else, can do what it takes to rebuild the middle class alone.
We need a political revolution. We need millions of Americans to begin to stand up and fight back and demand a government that represents all of us.
And if we stand together, men and women, gay and straight, black, white, Latino, Asian, and Native American, and say loudly and clearly that enough is enough! That this country belongs to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.