CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Following is the text of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s speech to the Democratic National Convention Sept. 5. Besides Trumka, Auto Workers President Bob King and Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry also addressed the convention.

“Good evening, brothers and sisters. I’m Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.

I’m a third-generation coal miner from Nemacolin, Pa. I’m here on behalf of millions of people who do the work of America.

“Last week, Mitt Romney told us that he and his friends built America – without any help from the rest of us. Well, let me tell you, Mitt Romney doesn’t know a thing about hard work or responsibility.

“We are the ones who built America. We are the ones who build it every single day – because it is our work that connects us all.

“Look around this convention, at all the hard-working men and women who make this place run – the ones keeping us safe, serving our food, driving our buses, and cleaning up after the party’s over. When we go home tonight, the workers will be mopping and vacuuming, and picking up our trash.

“So when you have a chance – thank a worker!

“We know that every worker – here in North Carolina, just like in every state in this country, and every country in the world – deserves the right to organize and bargain collectively. And the Democratic platform – unlike its counterpart in Tampa – makes crystal clear that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will fight to protect and strengthen this fundamental human right.

“My friends, our country has a big job to do. We have to rebuild our middle class together. Our economy works best when it works for everyone, not just a select few. Our history teaches us that shared prosperity is the only kind that lasts.

 “In the 21st century global economy, prosperity requires leaders committed to creating good jobs by investing in our future-in our ports and roads and bridges and airports, in energy and telecommunications, and in our public schools…Leaders who are serious about rebuilding our manufacturing economy. Leaders like Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

“We know that the wealthiest and most powerful among us, those who have benefited most in recent years, must do their part to help rebuild America.

“Prosperity requires economic security. Working Americans will stand with leaders who protect and strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid-not those who plan to cut benefits working people have paid for, earned and are counting on.

“Prosperity requires democracy-starting with the essential right of everyone in this great country to a voice, both in the ballot box and in the workplace, the right to solve problems together and to climb the ladder to the middle class the old-fashioned way, through hard work fairly rewarded.

“President Obama and Vice President Biden have put the country on the right path, toward jobs and shared prosperity, despite the obstruction they faced from a dishonest, politically motivated, economically challenged Republican majority in Congress. We face a choice in November: Between division and decline, and unity and growth.

“We love our country. We built it. We defend it. We wake it up each morning.

We make it run, and we put it to sleep each night. Our country needs unity. Our country needs leadership. Our country needs Barack Obama!”

Video of Richard Trumka’s speech to the DNC.



Richard Trumka
Richard Trumka

Richard Trumka was president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO from 2009 until his death on August 5, 2021.