It is so great to be here as you gather and take Detroit by storm. I am so honored to be here, to congratulate all of you on the incredible progress you continue to make under your president Mary Kay Henry, secretary-treasurer Gerry Hudson, and all of your executive vice presidents.
You know, standing behind me are some of the SEIU members that I've had the great honor of meeting over the past year.
Thank you, Terrell, for sharing your story. I was so touched by what you had to say and the others with whom I met just from Chicago, to L.A. to New Haven and places in between to hear what you do, how you do it, how you love doing it. But how it's becoming impossible to continue the work you love, in childcare or home health care, if you do not have a living wage.
I am here to tell you that I join with you to do everything we can to make sure that the men and women of SEIU who are providing care for our children, our elderly, people with disabilities, you all have a living wage.
I do sort of wish that the presumptive Republican nominee could have been around to hear the stories that I heard. Maybe then he wouldn't say wages are too high in this country. Maybe he would finally open his ears and listen to what working people everywhere are saying that America needs a raise!
I really can't think of a better way to start the week than standing with the brothers and sisters of SEIU. You keep America healthy, care for our loved ones, help people with disabilities live independently. You keep our cities, our states, and our schools running. You clean our buildings, and protect our communities.
So today, I want to say something that I don't think you hear enough: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I know that you are often unsung heroes. And I want you to know this: Your fights are my fights. Just like the theme of this conference says: "Together, we are unstoppable."
I'm thrilled to see so many friends from my home state of New York here today. And friends from across the country who have helped me in this primary campaign. You braved the snow in Iowa and the rain in South Carolina, you've knocked doors in New Hampshire and got on buses to come to Nevada. Everywhere I go these days, the purple t-shirts are out in force. Like a lot of great things about America, this campaign is union-built, and I could not be prouder.
You've had my back—and I will always have yours.
Because as I've traveled the country I've had the chance, really the privilege and talked with health care workers, home care workers, childcare workers, fast food workers, airport workers, and janitors, and nurses. I've heard again and again: There has never been more at stake for working families in America than right now.
This election, my friends, from where I stand is about knocking down all the barriers that hold families and workers back. Building ladders of opportunity in their place. Coming together to get incomes rising and creating more good jobs that provide dignity and pride.
That's what SEIU has always fought for. And with your help, we are going to win in November.
I am the granddaughter of a factory worker who operated a loom at the Scranton Lace Works in Pennsylvania. My father put everything he had into a small fabric printing shop in Chicago. My mother was out on her own working as a housemaid at the age of 14.
I grew up respecting the dignity of hard work and what it takes to provide a good, middle class life, where you really can believe that your children will be better off than you have been.
So that's why I believe that when unions are strong, America is strong. There is no doubt, although some may question it, unions helped build the strongest middle class in the history of the world. SEIU is not only part of that noble tradition, you've been on the frontlines of the fight for affordable health care, safe working conditions, and fair, predictable schedules. And today, you're leading the movement to raise the minimum wage, which will lift 35 million working Americans out of poverty.
In fact, the American labor movement pioneered the basic bargain that made our country great: If you work hard and you do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead.
You're not just fighting for your members—you're fighting for all working families. And I'm proud to be in the trenches fighting alongside you. Because I also know strong families are the backbone of our economy and our country.
So to everyone here, to all of you who have ever faced a hostile legislature, a union-busting governor, or both: Help is on the way.
We are going to defend the right to organize, protect collective bargaining. Let's make the jobs of the future good union jobs that can't be outsourced. And let's say what we all know: "right to work" is wrong for workers, and wrong for America.
I know that and you know that and it's time we make sure everyone knows that. Because thanks to the determination and sacrifice of working people like you all over this country—and because of the leadership of President Obama—we've worked our way back from the worst financial crisis in a generation. You see, I don't think the President gets the credit he deserves for saving our economy.
But our work is far from finished.
I've heard from so many families who are still struggling. Corporate profits keep going up, and so do everyday living expenses, but paychecks for most people still are not growing the way they should. Too many families worry about how to keep the lights on and the rent paid. Parents run themselves ragged trying to balance responsibilities at home and work.
It can be even harder for parents raising kids with special needs or chronic illnesses. Like LaTonya Allen, a homecare worker I met from Atlanta. Her 29-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy. LaTonya is working around the clock to support her family on $9 an hour. She has no benefits, no vacation, no sick days—so when she got hurt on the job, she went to work on crutches, with a broken bone in her hip.
She is not asking for life to be easy. It ain't no crystal staircase; she knows that. But no one should have to choose between taking care of their health or paying the bills. LaTonya works so hard, she works hard to do right by her family. She deserves a country that will do right by her. That is what's at stake in this election.
Because the families I've met across the country come from different backgrounds, they earn different incomes, but they all desperately want to give their kids a good life. And they're up against pressures and problems too big for them to solve on their own.
In many ways, our economy and our workplaces are built still for a different time, when many moms stayed home, when one parent could earn enough to support a family. Don't you think it's time, finally, that we catch up to how American families actually live and work in today's world? Well I sure do, that's why I have been laying out an agenda and I thank SEIU for helping me with that agenda, Mary Kay.
First, we've got to do more to raise families' incomes. Let's start by raising the federal minimum wage. And let's support local efforts to go even higher. I am proud to stand with SEIU and workers across the country organizing in the fight for $15 and a union. Every worker everywhere in America deserves a fair wage and a voice on the job. So thank you for leading this fight, because "when we fight, we win."
Let's also fight for paid family leave. Too many moms, and a lot of them right here today, too many moms have to go back to work just days after their babies are born—like the homecare worker I met from Minnesota, who had to return a week after having a C-section. How else was she going to put food on the table for a toddler and a new baby? And too many dads and parents of adopted children don't get any paid leave at all. Neither do sons and daughters struggling to take care of their aging parents.
None of this is fair to families. Donald Trump may not care—but we do. And so do working families across our country. We know America is better than this.
So let's finally guarantee equal pay for women. After all, it's 2016. Don't you think it's about time? When a woman is paid unfairly and unequally that doesn't just shortchange her—it shortchanges her whole family.
Let's encourage more employers, both in the private and the public sector, to embrace family-friendly policies, like predictable scheduling.
Together, we'll do whatever we can to fight to finally put quality childcare within the reach of every family.
You know that in many states, childcare is more expensive than rent, it's more expensive even than college tuition. That puts parents in an impossible position.
Just ask Artheta Peters from Cleveland, Ohio. She loves her job caring for an 8-year-old with a muscle disease. But she doesn't earn enough to afford childcare for her own children, so she's forced to leave them at home with an older sibling. It breaks her heart, but she doesn't have a choice.
In fact, in some states, two parents earning the minimum wage have to spend about 20 percent of their income on childcare. For a single parent, it's 40 percent. That is way too high.
Let's make it so no family ever has to spend more than 10 percent of their income for childcare.
And let's give childcare workers a raise. Right now, dog trainers are paid more than childcare workers. Look, I believe in training dogs, but you don't dress your dog up and send your dog to kindergarten, do you? You don't dream of sending your dog to college, do you? You don't worry about whether your dog is going to be exposed to dangerous influences because you can't afford quality childcare, do you? This is crazy, there's nothing more important than our children.
When I sat down with SEIU members in Chicago, I heard one heartbreaking story after another from parents who can't afford to give their own children the care that they give other people's kids every day. So as president I'll support states and cities that take steps to increase pay for childcare providers and early educators, we're going to make childcare more affordable at the same time for families.
I will also launch a Care Workers Initiative across every level of government. Over and over again, homecare and childcare workers that I've met with across the country have told me they want more chances to increase their skills. Let's work together to create more opportunities so that workers who are caring for others can grow in their jobs and fight for fair wages. Let's give them a chance to come together to make their voices heard and we have a stronger, better system for the people who do this vital work.
And if we're serious about doing all of this and supporting families, we have to be serious about facing up to the reality of systemic racism. And that means dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline once and for all.
We have a moral obligation to fight for justice and equity everywhere, and that includes ending, ending the era of mass incarceration, rebuilding the trust between law enforcement and communities, and putting a stop to the horror of young African Americans being killed by or dying in police custody.
We owe that to our children, and we owe it to the parents whose children have been so tragically taken from them.
That's why I'm proud that SEIU members across the country are standing up for criminal justice reform and calling for environmental and economic justice for every community. I will be right by your side, every step of the way.
And there's one more thing that I want you to help on and that is ending the epidemic of gun violence that kills 33,000 Americans a year. We need comprehensive background checks, to close the online loophole, close the gun show loophole, close what's called the Charleston loophole. Stop the unaccountability of gun makers and sellers.
Saturday, Saturday night I was in Fort Lauderdale, with mothers who have lost their children to gun violence, including Trayvon Martin's mother. There were mothers from Chicago and Washington, from New York and Sandy Hook. Mothers joined together, not only in grief and loss, but in courage and resolve. They're going to do everything they can and I am going to help them every way I can. I am committed to doing all we must to help say lives. And I'll tell you right now, the gun lobby doesn't intimidate me and it shouldn't intimidate anybody.
Supporting all families in all ways is a necessity.
And when I talk about families, and what I want to see us do to stay true to our values and give every single person in this country a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. Mr. Trump likes to say I'm playing the "woman card."
Well, you know what I say: if fighting for equal pay, and paid family leave, and raising the minimum wage and affordable childcare, is playing the woman card, then deal me in.
It shouldn't surprise us that he has a very different take on all this. At a time when families are struggling to pay for childcare and so much else, Donald Trump actually stood on a debate stage and argued that Americans are being paid too much. He actually talked, here this because you need to tell your friends, he actually talked about getting rid of the national minimum wage altogether. Shouldn't be surprising, he's hired union-busters to break up organizing campaigns on the properties he owns.
But we're not talking about any ordinary anti-union, anti-worker Republican. A lot of Republicans themselves say Donald Trump is a disaster waiting to happen to America. What little we know of his economic policies would be from running up our debt, to starting trade wars, to letting Wall Street run wild—all of that could cause another crash and devastate working families and our country. Trump economics is a recipe for lower wages, fewer jobs, more debt. He could bankrupt America like he's bankrupted his companies.
Ask yourself, how could anybody lose money running a casino? Really?
And that's not all. I hear every day from families who are afraid of what a Donald Trump presidency would mean for millions of immigrants living and working in America.
16 million people in America are part of what's called "mixed status" families, where some loved ones are citizens and some aren't. Maybe the children were born here but one or both parents are undocumented. I'm sure some of you have families like that. These are not just statistics, are they? We're talking about real people—men, women and children. We're talking about neighbors, coworkers, and friends.
A few months ago in Las Vegas, I met a 10-year-old girl named Karla Ortiz. She started to cry as she told me that her parents had a letter of deportation, and she was scared they would be taken away from her.
In a lot of ways, Karla is a typical, bright fifth grader. She loves science experiments, math, and Charlotte's Web. But she leaves for school every day terrified that her mom and dad who are working hard to support their family, won't be there when she gets home. Her parents had to take her to a heart specialist, who explained that living in constant fear was making her little heart beat dangerously fast.
When Donald Trump talks about deporting 11 million immigrants, he's talking about ripping apart families like Karla's. He's talking about sending a "deportation force" to schools, workplaces, and homes to round up moms, dads, grandparents, even children.
When he talks about ending birthright citizenship, he's talking about kicking children who are born here out of the only country they know.
When he calls immigrants rapists and murderers, he's talking about families like Karla's and many of yours.
The most important measure of any society is how we treat those at the beginning, our children, and those at the end, the elderly. What kind of country would we be if we let Donald Trump rip our families apart?
We have to reject this wrong vision for America with one strong, clear voice. We have to stand up for hardworking American families—and that includes hard-working immigrant families. Moms and dads should be preparing their kids for their futures—not for the possibility that they could be hauled away at any moment.
In my first 100 days as president, I will introduce comprehensive immigration reform. And I will build, I will build on President Obama's executive actions and keep going, fighting every day to fix our broken immigration system and keep families together.
These are just some of the reasons this is one of the most important elections in our lifetimes. The only thing standing between Donald Trump and the Oval Office is all of us.
We are coming to the end of the Democratic primaries. I applaud Senator Sanders and his supporters for challenging us to get unaccountable money out of our politics; we are going to take on the crisis of income inequality. And we are going to unify the Democratic Party and stop Donald Trump.
There is so much more that unites than divides us. And we're going up against a candidate who will pull us backwards on every issue we care about.
We need a president who will use the bully pulpit to stand up for working families—but the last thing we need is a bully in the pulpit.
And nobody knows better than a union like SEIU that the only way to stand up to a bully is together.
That is, that is what I want to do with all of you; it's what unions are about. It's what I've been about my entire life, ever since I went to work for the Children's Defense Fund. We're going to have each other's back. We're going to lift each other up. We're going to leave no one behind. We're going to build a better future not just for yourselves, but for the hardworking people and their children across America. That's how we will be our best.
The lesson of the labor movement, the lesson of America's history, through good times and hard times, is that we are stronger together. So let's keep fighting, let's keep working, let's win an election in November and make sure our country is the country that we know represents our best values, not our worst.
Thank you, and God bless you.