Reading between the lines…

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By Inger Eberhart

Inger's political columns and essays have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Marietta Daily Journal, The Social Contract Journal and other publications. Inger has appeared on My Fox Atlanta, 11 Alive, WSB-TV and has addressed state legislative committees, municipalities and Tea Party groups to educate Americans on the adverse effects of sustained mass immigration. Find her on Twitter @Hunter7Taylor.

The writer's views are her own.

August 8, 2012

The Center for American Progress conducted the Campus Progress National Conference.  The conference purports to teach college students how to create a progressive America.  The progress is the advancement of issues such as jobs, education, immigration, etc.  The illustrious speakers list included House Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democratic National Committee Chair & Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Each of the speakers state that they are for the American worker and strive to get people back to work.  The Democrats accuse Republicans of blocking legislation to support higher employment. Hilda Solis is the head of the agency whose purpose is to report employment numbers and support initiatives that lower unemployment.  Richard Trumka’s organization works to organize workers on the ground.  One would expect that the AFL-CIO, the organization at “ground zero” for labor, would push to ensure that the few available jobs would go to American workers.  However, Mr. Trumka’s speech to this conference states otherwise.  I will take due license with parts of his speech and read between the lines of his speech.

Trumka:

"Some of you probably think we’re a bunch of stodgy, old-school people with outdated ideas – too interested in what’s good for us and too disinterested in what’s good for others in our communities -- and to be perfectly frank with you, there’s a grain of truth to that – and it’s something we’re working to change.  But at the end of the day, our goal is and has always been simple and pure—we want to make life better for working people."

Translation:

The labor movement has been focused mostly on the labor leaders and not the workers.  We have not been relevant for a long time.  Past tactics do not work; we need to retool.

Trumka:

We’re not always spiffy and clean. Some of us are a little rough around the edges. But the labor movement and progressive student activists share the same core values. And let me say this -- As the next generation of activists and leaders, you are also part of the next generation of workers, and the way you exercise your activism and solidarity on the job will define the future of work.  You see, activism isn’t limited to what we do off-hours or as career advocates. It’s also what we do every day where we work.  As progressive activists we have to understand that “workers’ rights” are civil rights, to turn lousy jobs into good jobs -- even if we have to fight for it—and for that matter, to work together with employers who want to do the right things for working families and solve problems to create a sustainable future.

Translation:

You are the union’s future.  When you work each day, you are engaged in activism.  You have the right to a job just as you have the right to vote.

Trumka:

Your generation’s struggle for jobs—for quality jobs—with fair wages and good benefits, so that those of you who have student debt can have the ability to pay it down and have the opportunity to live the life you want: the ability to get married, to raise a family if you want to, to start a business, to fight for the causes you believe in, and to leave a stronger America for the generations that follow you -- that struggle is the struggle of the labor movement, and that struggle is also my struggle. You see, activists from my generation and before me also needed solidarity on and off the job to improve this country. The struggles of working people haven’t changed all that much, and that’s why we share so many values in common. Unions have been fighting for social and economic justice since our beginnings. We’ve worked for decades, and will continue to fight, to make sure no employer can pay you less just because you are a woman, or person of color.

Translation:

Unemployment is high.  There are few jobs that will compensate you enough for you to do what you would like to do.  We are the reason that women, Blacks, etc. pay is more equitable.

Trumka:

“We fight today for the passage of the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. We stood with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the activists of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. We supported Occupy Wall St. We’re working to address the issue of college debt, and we’ll stand with the activists and the movements of tomorrow. And, my friends, we will stand with you through it all.”

Translation:

We fight for the right of illegal aliens to continue to flow into the country unabated.  These same aliens will continue to compete for the scarce jobs that I mentioned earlier, but, that is okay.  Illegal aliens have the civil right to a job just as you do.  In the past, we fought for the American worker but now we must fight all workers regardless of their legal status to work.

Trumka:

We try to keep our eye on a simple vision. I believe that every single working person in America who works hard and plays by the rules should have a fair shot at a decent life—the opportunity to be who they want to be and earn good pay and benefits and a secure retirement. And I believe that this ideal is not a cost to be weighed against national prosperity, but that the two are one and the same.

Translation:

There is nothing more to being an American than escaping capture at the border.  We will work to ensure that every single working person in America, illegal aliens included, who works hard and plays by the rules (except the immigration laws) will have a fair shot at a decent life.

Trumka:

“Here’s the most amazing thing. Our goals are much closer than most people realize. Wall Street hasn’t learned its lesson -- of course not. And sometimes it seems like some people just wish we could return to the upside of a bubble economy. But something is happening in America. Just a few short years ago, the DREAM Act was nowhere. Now, because the DREAMers refused to take no for an answer, it has momentum and national support from the President of the United States.”

Translation:

We got very close but the American people began to fight back.  We were almost able to overlook the American worker but for the American worker.  We will fight Wall Street but not to ensure they use legal workers.  We want to continue to encourage illegal immigration.  If we keep the illegal alien parents employed and encouraged we are sure that there is a constant flow illegal alien labor.  Open borders for all.

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