National Labor College
Thank you President Sweeney for that kind introduction… and thank you for your leadership for our working families and our labor family in every part of our Country.
I would also like to thank President Schurman, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Rich Trumka, Tom Donahue… and so many others who helped make today possible… and who – through their hard work – are building a strong foundation for the future of labor.
And it is a special pleasure to see the AFL-CIO’s leader in Maryland, Fred Mason. Fred, thank you for all your help. I’m glad we’re working together to serve the people we’re privileged to represent.
To my colleagues in the General Assembly – thank you for your continued support of the National Labor College… and for investing in our greatest strength: the drive and commitment of working men and women.
I’m very grateful for this opportunity to come together with such great friends to honor a man who dedicated his life to the core values of the labor movement – dignity for every worker, integrity for every family, and opportunity for every child.
Lane Kirkland was a force for progress that helped pave the way for greater opportunity and a greater role for the American worker. But he also brought a global vision based on an understanding that we are all in this together.
It was this timeless truth that defined “Solidarity,” his lifelong theme… and earned him a coveted spot on President Nixon’s “enemies list.” It’s also that foundation we build upon today as we look toward our own challenges and opportunities.
My friends, today, we compete economically as never before on a global and faster track. In a very real way, our economic and financial security depends on our ability to extend opportunities to more of our neighbors.
We have the tremendous assets to meet this challenge. We have institutions of higher learning… federal institutions… sound workforce… growth and development… and unrivaled regional strength.
At the same time, we have a responsibility to ensure that every citizen has an opportunity to share in our prosperity. With fair wages… healthcare for working families… training, to turn a job into a career… ensuring that no matter where we’re born, or how rich or poor, we all have an opportunity to advance.
To some, this may be a tall order. But, if anyone doubts our ability to live up to this responsibility, come to the National Labor College.
Because here we learn that within the reach of every worker is the opportunity to simultaneously earn while we learn.
The opportunity to translate the hard work of a lifetime into a college degree.
The opportunity to develop lifelong skills to adapt, grow and lead in our changing economy.
The opportunity, and this is critical, to secure good jobs and decent wages at the bargaining table.
The National Labor College is one of the horses that we have hitched our State to… in order to pull our wagon, in partnership, toward a better tomorrow.
Because, in the end, we know that when we invest in worker education, we invest in the very foundation of our working families and a stronger, growing middle class.
I just want to close by pledging to you that I will do everything in my power to help build on the cornerstone we lay today to advance the noble cause of the National Labor College – remembering that “without labor, nothing prospers.”
Thank you very much.