Randy Radtke’s Speech to Wisconsin Jobs Now Workers Following the Strike
Wausau WI Labor Temple
September 4, 2014
Let’s give a round of applause for the workers going out on strike today, they are the real heroes. It shows that if we unite together, change will happen. There are many cities that have raised the minimum wage already because of this movement. Our own Jessy West recently won a judgment against Lee’s Famous Recipe as a result of the Wausau Fast Food Workers Strike back in May.
Governor Scott Walker keeps talking about how anyone who needs a job can get a job. The problem with this is that workers often hold three – and if there were more hours in a day many of our people would work four – of the jobs he is creating and still cannot survive. It’s just not right that people have to work more than one job to make a living because the pay is so low. Slaves had jobs too, but they never got ahead.
On top of all this, workers are often condemned for receiving food stamps and government assistance. They are accused of being lazy and getting handouts. But what the public doesn’t understand is that the great majority of these people are working as many hours as they can get. Their pay is simply so low that they need help. No one wants to take government assistance and I am personally sick of taxpayers having to subsidize the employees of wealthy corporations and rich CEO’s because the wages being paid are not enough for workers to live on. It is these corporations and CEO’s that are actually getting public assistance. They are becoming ever richer on the backs of average taxpayers.
One thing we never talk about enough is that workers are consumers. We live in a consumer driven economy. It is workers who make up the majority of consumers in this country. Two of the ways we gauge how our economy is doing are consumer confidence and levels of employment. Too many in the business world and too many of our elected officials fail to understand, or don’t want to understand, is these two things are connected. In order for workers to feel more confidence as consumers they need to have not just jobs, but good paying jobs with good benefits. They need to feel secure about their employment. That’s why I say – $15.00 and a union! $15.00 and a union!
We have an important election coming in November and we have two clear choices. We can elect officials who’ll raise wages, create jobs and make workers better consumers. Or we can elect officials who will give more tax breaks to corporations and CEO’s and leave workers behind. I hope we choose the 1st option.
Thanks for letting me speak!
Randy Radtke is President of Marathon County Central Labor Council AFL-CIO