SAN FRANCISCO – Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su today joined Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai in San Francisco at the launch of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing Worker Empowerment, Rights, and High Labor Standards Globally. Below are Acting Secretary Su’s remarks, as delivered:“Alright, now I have to do what Kelly said, which is bring it home, right here at home.“But thank you so much for that, Katherine. I am so grateful for your leadership and your partnership. And under your leadership, the United States is writing a new story about trade and making clear that labor rights are not an obstacle to trade policy; it’s really a cornerstone of it. And there is no one better to lead us and make that real than you. So, thank you very, very much.“And I also want to, of course, thank Secretary Blinken for what everyone has already said but also for his deep dedication to lifting up workers and workers’ rights and workers’ voices all around the world. “And I want to recognize our Speaker Emerita – our Speaker – Nancy Pelosi who…[Applause]“I know, you can’t say her name without getting that kind of reaction.“But I also want to say, as a woman leader, as a fierce defender of workers’ rights, as somebody who – you know, it’s about knowing your power, but also about unleashing your power. And I ask at the Department of Labor every day, ‘What are we doing to unleash the full power of the Department for the good of working people?’ You embody what it means to unleash power whenever you have it. And so, thank you so much for that.“And I want to thank brother Rudy Gonzalez, for being such a phenomenal leader. We were just together here in San Francisco recently. And it’s so amazing to be here with you again and to be with everybody in this room. You all are why we are gathered here in San Francisco. It’s about all the other things, but it’s also about the incredible labor movement that is built and nurtured right here in San Francisco. And it’s about the worker leaders in this room and around the world who are really demonstrating what is possible when workers have real power. “So, as you all know, every worker deserves a just day’s pay for a hard day’s work. “Every worker should come home healthy and safe at the end of the day. “And every worker should have a right to join a union. “And these are not just American values. They apply to workers around the world. “And in President Biden’s America, we want to lead by example. So, we are supporting workers across our country – from health care to hospitality to Hollywood, from teachers to flight attendants, from delivery drivers to longshoremen – who are demanding their fair share and who are saying that we deserve to be valued. “So, let’s look at the auto industry. We’ve already talked about that some. But last week, I was with President Biden in Belvidere, Illinois, where a factory that had been closed is now going to reopen. And it’s not just going to bring back jobs; it’s going to grow new jobs. For the future of an industry that’s in transition, it’s going to be built by union workers. And that only happened because unions had a seat at the bargaining table and were able to demand that kind of outcome. “That’s in addition to the historic wage increases, and the benefits, and the retirement, and having a say in the future of the industry that was demonstrated by that particular negotiation. “And as so many of you in this room know, as [ILWU International] President Adams knows well, and gave me the great privilege of seeing up close in his negotiation: collective bargaining works. “And wins for unions are not just wins for union members. They’re also wins for non-union workers. We’re seeing that again in the auto industry with the wage increases that have already been made by non-union companies. [UAW] President Shawn Fain calls is the ‘UAW bump.’ And he is right about that. And we see that in all kinds of industries today. “And you all know that leadership matters, and we’ve seen positive trends for workers’ rights and increased power for unions and for collective bargaining, because we have a President who supports workers using their voice. “It’s different when I walk into the room and can say that this President believes that the only people who can decide whether a contract is fair are the members themselves. “And that matters. And that’s what ‘Union Joe’ is making a difference. And that’s why having the most pro-union, pro-worker President in history is making a difference. And that’s what we celebrate today with this Presidential Memorandum.“Now at the same time, we all know that there’s a lot more work that we have to do. “And corporations are global. So, workers, and worker power, and the way we think about workers have to be global, as well. “So, when some corporations cut corners and contract out work to low-road businesses that exploit workers around the world, it creates an unfair playing field for every responsible business that does right by its workers. “When global actors are allowed to evade labor laws in one country by exploiting workers in another part of the world, this undermines workers’ rights everywhere.“And when workers are harassed, discriminated against, and attacked as they produce things that are sold all around the world, we cannot simply look away and ignore the ways that our global economy brings with it global responsibility. “In other words, what happens in Bangladesh also affects working families across the United States, from Birmingham to Boston to Bellingham. “And in recent weeks, in Bangladesh, garment workers have been risking their lives and, in some cases, have even been killed protesting for a fair minimum wage. This is unacceptable. “And that’s why today’s announcement is so historic. “Now, for the first time, the United States will use a whole-of-government approach to elevate labor rights around the world. “At the U.S. Department of Labor, this is core to what we do. “So, when my team meets with leaders at ministries of labor around the world, we advocate for workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain. “To further this work, we’ve expanded our network of labor attachés around the world from one to 10. And they work closely with their State Department counterparts to embed labor rights in our foreign policy.   “You already heard both Rudy and Ambassador Tai talk about our work in Mexico. And we are grateful to work under the great leadership of Ambassador Tai and her team, as well as the Mexican labor ministry on making sure the provisions of the USMCA are meaningful and real and to build the infrastructure so that Mexican workers can truly have a union of their choice.“And we’ve also launched the Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment, and Rights – or M-POWER. And with M-POWER, we’re elevating the role of freedom of association and independent unions. Because, as has already been said, strong labor organizations aren’t just foundational for workers’ rights; they are foundational for healthy, inclusive democracies. “The Department of Labor is also expanding its work to combat forced labor and to improve transparency and accountability from the bottom to the top of global supply chains. “I know how important this is because I have seen it up close. And you all will remember this story from California, when 72 garment workers who had been trafficked to the United States from Thailand and were forced to work behind barbed wire and under armed guard, sewing garments for 18 hours a day. “This happened, in part, because these workers, who were overwhelming women, faced poverty wages or lack of opportunity at home, which made them vulnerable to traffickers who promised them a good job in the United States. And that promise turned out to be a lie. “They sewed garments, right here in California, until their fingers were raw and their vision blurred.“And once these workers were discovered, they did the unimaginable—they fought back. And I was privileged to be their attorney at that time, and we brought a challenge against the multi-billion-dollar industry in which they were working. “Because human trafficking is just one of the many examples of how labor abuse and lack of rights for workers in one part of the world makes them more vulnerable to abuse elsewhere – and how the global demand for cheap labor also makes workers vulnerable in every part of our globe.“And in the Biden-Harris administration, we are using every tool we have to stop this.   “So now, with the Presidential Memorandum, every federal agency is committed to use all the tools at their disposal to empower workers around the world and to lift up workers’ rights to organize. “The real measure of our progress is not going to be in policy pronouncements. It’s not going to be dollars of investments. It’s not going to be in numbers, as the Ambassador already said. It’s going to be in seeing workers using their voices to stand up and fight for their basic needs.“It’s going to be in more workers joining together and exercising their fundamental rights to organize.“More workers rejecting the message that they’ve been told their whole lives, that they should just keep their heads down and know their place. “Because we in this room know that workers’ place is at the table. It’s on the picket line. It’s in the headquarters where decisions are being made. “And that’s what it means to have a pro-worker, pro-union President, who believes in worker power and workers’ ability to demand more. “And this will happen when we see more workers getting their footing in the middle class, not just in this country, but around the world. “So, I look forward to continuing to work with all of you here and around the world to make sure that the U.S. government leads by example and that we make real and profound progress together. “Thank you all so, so much. And let’s get it done.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *