Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) addressed the convention over Zoom on Monday morning.
“Let me thank all of the UE workers for standing up year after year against corporate greed, and demanding that the working class of this country receives the respect and the dignity which it deserves,” he said.
“Decade after decade, the UE has been a leader in the struggle for economic justice. You have been one of the great unions in American history, and I am so proud to be saying a few words to you today at your convention.”
Sanders praised UE’s recent organizing victories among tens of thousands of graduate workers, the successful ten-week strike waged by UE Locals 506 and 618 at Wabtec in Erie, PA, and the first contract achieved by UE Local 115 at the Refresco bottling plant in Wharton, NJ.
“What we are seeing now, and it's long overdue,” Sanders said, is “a resurgence of the trade union movement in this country, more and more workers organizing, and more and more workers prepared to go on strike for dignity. And the reason that all of that is happening, I think, is that when working people look around them and they see what's happening, and they see the people on top doing fantastically well while they are struggling.
“What they are saying is enough is enough.”
Sanders said that across the political spectrum, “what people want is an economy that works for all of us, not just the one percent.”
He pointed out that “weekly wages for the average American worker are actually $50 lower than they were 50 years ago after adjusting for inflation. ... This is an extraordinary, extraordinarily important point that very few people are talking about.
“Despite record-breaking corporate profits, despite corporate America spending hundreds of billions of dollars on stock buybacks and dividends, the average American worker is worse off today than he or she was 50 years ago. That's the issue.”
He said that “People are sick and tired of a corrupt political system which, as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, allows billionaires to buy elections. That's not what democracy is about. That's oligarchy.”
“What the UE understands, and what I understand, is that we refuse to live in an oligarchic form of society. We refuse to accept a society in which so few have so much and so many have so little. Enough is enough.
“That's what our struggle is today, and I'm so proud to be working with the UE, who has been front and center in that fight for the working class of this country.”