AFSCME President Lee Saunders did not pull any punches this morning at AFSCME’s 2013 Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.
In front of more than 600 AFSCME members, Saunders railed against Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, comparing Nutter to anti-labor Republican Governors Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rick Snyder.
Saunders referred to Nutter’s tactics as “bullshit,” and said that “we’re not gonna to take anymore.”
AFSCME District Council 33 members in Philadelphia have gone four years without a contract, and Mayor Nutter recently asked the state Supreme Court to impose a contract on his city’s public employees.
Here’s President Saunders’ speech, partially edited for length:
Many of you have heard me say this before, and it’s worth repeating: Our attackers are coming at us from across the political spectrum. No matter whether they’ve got a D or an R behind their name, if they’re not with us, they’re gonna damn well know we’re not with them. And no matter what promises they make or excuses they offer, we must hold every one of them accountable.
I am sick and tired of the fair-weather Democrats. They date us, take us to the prom, marry us, and then divorce us right after the honeymoon. I am sick and tired of the so-called friends who commend us when they’re running for election, but condemn us after they’ve won. I am sick and tired of the politicians who stand with us behind closed doors, but kick us to the curb in front of the cameras. I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit and we’re not gonna take it anymore!
Many of you know some of the people I’m talking about.
Mayor Michael Nutter in Philadelphia. Governor Pat Quinn in Illinois.
We’ve come to expect union-busting, anti-worker tactics from ultra-conservatives like Scott Walker and John Kasich.
But now, everybody’s on the bandwagon.
Look at Nutter. AFSCME members in Philadelphia haven’t had a contract in four years, and Sister Baylor knows it. What does the mayor do? He goes to the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court to get a legal decision that would let him shove his contract down our throats. He’s no different from Governor Snyder in Michigan, who went to his state’s Supreme Court to get legal cover for cutting school employees’ pay. Different political parties, same political games.
I have had enough of these turncoats, and it’s time to make them pay.
And this is not the time to lower our expectations or our sights. This is the time to raise our hopes and ambitions. This is the time to fight like hell for working and middle-class families. And across this nation, that’s what we’re doing.
For a primer on the dispute between AFSCME and Mayor Nutter, check out this TV ad from District Council 33 expressing their grievances: