One of the highlights of Netroots Nation was last night’s stirring keynote address by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka, who delivered a call to action to the netroots.
Trumka won a standing ovation for his speech, which pointed out the critical role of the netroots in fighting corporate domination and amplifying the voice for progressive change:
God bless you for looking at power and saying, “We won’t back down.”
Acknowledging the need to educate a new generation of young workers about unions and why they matter, Trumka pledged to listen to the voices of younger people and to reach out to those who are entering a new kind of workplace in the 21st century. In this troubled economy, he said, the freedom to join a union and bargain was more important than ever. Giving workers bargaining power means giving them the buying power they need to keep our economy going.
You can’t borrow your way into the middle class. You have to bargain your way into the middle class.
The netroots have a vita role to play in countering the misinformation rampant in the mainstream media and particularly the lies and attacks that come from corporate-influenced outlets like Fox News and loud, deep-pocketed interests like the insurance industry. Their falsehoods need to be countered by reason and facts, he said.
The netroots are critical to the future of our democracy, Trumka said, because they can issue the strong call to action that’s needed on issues like financial reform, health care, and the Employee Free Choice Act.
You don’t win by sitting back. You win by getting up and fighting back…this is our moment, and together we will.
We can’t just replicate the old economy, where very few saw all the benefits and the vast majority paid the price, Trumka said. We need to rebuild a new economy and achieve the dream of a country where everyone has a seat at the table.
Trumka’s address is a great sign of the growing cooperation between the union movement and the netroots, and the positive response from attendees shows the strength and power of that relationship.