[February 25, 2016, Remarks as Prepared, Check against Delivery.]
Thank you all so much. I especially want to thank the workers who are standing with us today. We are here for you.
My name is Pramila Jayapal and I am running for Congress in Washington’s 7th District.
I am so proud to receive the very first labor endorsements in this race.
I’d like to recognize folks from all of the labor unions here:
· The United Food and Commercial Workers 21
· The United Auto Workers 4121
· The Ironworkers 86
· The Sailors Union of the Pacific; and
· The American Federation of Government Employees
You have all done incredible work on behalf of Washington’s working families. Thank you to each and every one of you for your support.
What you see here today is more than an endorsement of my candidacy for Congress. It’s the beginning of a movement… a movement that says, for all our gains, America can always do better. And we must do better.
This campaign is for all the families struggling to stay in the middle class and for those trying so hard to work their way into it.
It’s for all the women who wonder how, in this day and age, we’re still earning 77 cents on the dollar earned by a man for the same work.
It’s for all the teachers and sailors, the auto workers and the ironworkers, the grocery clerks and the construction crews – all the workers who haven’t gotten a raise in years and wonder how they’ll pay the bills and save for their kids’ future or for their retirement.
This campaign is not about me. It’s about “we.”
I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life serving the people of the City of Seattle and the greater Puget Sound region, fighting for working people to have a better life. Now is the time to make sure that we send our voice into the halls of Congress.
As a state senator, I’ve worked with you all to deliver for Washington workers:
· Better Pensions
· Fought back Prevailing Wage Cuts
· Fought Transportation bill cuts to labor
· Invested in Pre-Apprenticeship Programs
· Protected Right to Organize
· Introduced State Minimum Wage Bill
· Started and chaired Progressive Caucus in Senate
See, I’ve lived the American Dream – my version of it. I came here as an immigrant, at sixteen years old, by myself, and no money to speak of—but the benefit of a great education that my parents had saved hard for. I got to really live that life of working for something that I didn’t have—fighting for opportunity—for myself, and for other people. It translated into deep gratitude for what I’d been given, and a desire to really make that true for other people.
A lot of people all over this district feel like the American Dream is no longer a possibility. That the old bargain – work hard and play by the rules, and you’ll do alright by your family – just doesn’t apply anymore. That what we hear from the other side may be right – that America’s day has passed.
Well, let me tell you – they are wrong, and we are right.
America is strong when Labor is strong. That’s why we believe that EVERY worker deserves the right to organize. We know that workplace democracy is essential to our nation’s democracy. It’s why we’ve been together on picket lines and at negotiating tables – fighting to raise wages and keep good paying jobs here at home.
To me, it comes down to a matter of simple economic fairness. How do make sure that working people are able to live day-to-day with dignity and respect?
Everyone in this room, and everyone represented by these unions -- believes higher wages build strong communities and a stronger economy. That’s why I served on Mayor Murray’s committee to help pass the $15 minimum wage. And on my third day in the Senate, I introduced the minimum wage bill to raise the minimum wage to $12 across the state.
A safe and secure workplace is more than a right, it’s a family value. Paid sick and safe days are essential to make sure people can care for a loved one, or escape domestic violence. We need to get that done in Congress.
I bring our fight for pay equity to the other Washington – and let me tell you, that conversation will be different when I’m at the table.
I have fought for immigrant’s rights my whole life. As an immigrant myself, I know how important it is to be treated with dignity and respect. We need to pass sensible immigration reform now – and I will work to get that done in the United States Congress.
In Congress, I will fight for fair trade policies that protect our workers. Washington State has a long history with trade, and trade is critical to our economy, but insider deals like the TPP do not have enough protections that will keep good paying jobs here at home in the 7th District. We can do better together.
I want to take moment to commend Congressman Jim McDermott for his legacy of tirelessly fighting the good fight for our progressive values. This district has a special place in Congress because of his fearless leadership – to say the things that need to be said, to fight the fights that need to be fought, to always stand on principle and never compromise on values.
When I step into his shoes, I need you at my side, so we can push back on the radical right attacks of workers… so we can make the American Dream real for Washington state working families again. We know what we need to do. Let’s go do it – together!