"We are going to demand respect for the skills and experience of the workforce And we are going to demand fairness. Fairness for the worker's contribution to the company. Fairness to the fact that without you, the CEO doesn't make $98 million this year. And fairness in wages because the working men and women deserve their piece of the American pie also."
"That's what the Local 3 fight is all about: it's for the working men and women in this state and this is a fight that we will not lose, we cannot lose. I will be with you every step of the way."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo joined National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to kick off the IBEW Local 3 march and rally in Brooklyn.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below.
Let's hear it for a great International President Richard Trumka. Let's hear it for our great State President Mario Cilento.
Now, I got started in politics back in the 80s. My father was running for Governor and we were from Queens. Thank you. God bless him. He's with us today. He's looking down and Mario Cuomo is with us today. The head of Local 3 was Harry Van Arsdale and I was running the campaign and Mr. Van Arsdale came up to me, I was just a kid, I was still in school, and he said, "I want you to organize all the labor unions in this state. That's your job." And I said, "Mr. Van Arsdale, I don't even know all the unions in this state. I'm just a kid." He said, "I'll tell you what you need to know. The labor movement comes down to two words. It's the demand for respect and fairness. That's what the labor movement is all about." And I have never forgotten those two words.
What we have seen in this country is a deterioration of the respect of the working men and women. What we have seen is in terms of real wages, working men and women in the middle class have gone backwards over the past 20 years. When I spoke to Mr. Van Arsdale, in the 80s the CEOs earned on average 34 times more than a worker. Today, 271 times what the workers are making.
But today is a powerful message, because today we say is a new day. Enough is enough and we're not going to take it anymore. We're going to stand together and we're going to demand the respect that we deserve. We are going to demand respect for the skills and experience of the workforce. We're going to demand respect for the blood and sweat of the workforce. And the strength and the effort and the time you spent in the cold and the rain and the heat, and the recognition that without you, there is no Charter/Spectrum. And we are going to demand fairness. Fairness for the worker's contribution to the company. Fairness to the fact that without you, the CEO doesn't make $98 million this year. And fairness in wages because the working men and women deserve their piece of the American pie also. You deserve wages that that allow you to buy a home, a retirement plan that takes care of you when your body is too worn out to work. Healthcare coverage, God forbid somebody gets sick, pay for college so your kids can do better than you do. That's fairness. That's what we demand. And the vehicle in this economy to get fairness is the labor movement. It's the union that is the equalizing force at the bargaining table. And that's why Corporate America is trying to destroy the unions. That's why they're trying to break unions all over this country. That's why they want to see the supreme court end the public employee unions as we know it. That's why they want to defund the Department of Labor. But my friends, it's not going to happen.
Now to the Charter Corporation: I want them to hear me and I want them to hear me well. They made certain representations when they came into this state. They said that if we allowed them in this state, they would improve the quality of service to customers. They said they would invest in technology. They said they would build out the broadband system. Last week, we fined them $13 million for being late on their buildout. And I want to know how they're going to improve customer service without the workforce that knows how to provide customer service.
I am going to hold them to every letter and the spirit of that document and if they don't get their act together and fulfil that agreement, they're going to be out of the State of New York. I want Charter to understand this. This is not a one day affair. This is not the end. Today is the beginning. And what's happening here today is the labor movement coming together in a way they haven't come together in decades. And it's right that it happens in New York because the labor movement started here at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire where we realized that workers have to stand up because if it was just up to corporate management, they don't give a damn. If we stand together as one and rededicate ourselves to the proposition that union brothers and union sisters stand together in solidarity, that if you attack one of us you attack all of us, there is no beating us. "That's what the Local 3 fight is all about: it's for the working men and women in this state and this is a fight that we will not lose, that we cannot lose. I will be with you every step of the way."
Thank you and God bless you.