by Clyde Weiss | June 18, 2012
Pres. Gerald W. McEntee delivers the opening keynote address Monday morning before a cheering crowd of more than 5,000 delegates, alternates and guests.
LOS ANGELES — Pres. Gerald W. McEntee, in his final keynote address after 31 years leading AFSCME, told delegates to AFSCME’s 40th International Convention the nation is witnessing a time when “the American Dream is under attack” and called on his union sisters and brothers to “choose to be a union with ambition, a union that dreams big dreams” – and one united for the challenges ahead.
“When we defend collective bargaining, we are fighting for the future of America. These battles are tough. But we’re used to fighting hard. We have made our union a driving force for economic and social justice throughout the nation.”
President McEntee also reminded the delegates of some of AFSCME’s victories, including the historic fight by members of Memphis, Tenn., Local 1733 “who put their lives on the line in 1968 to win collective bargaining rights.”
More recently, in Ohio, AFSCME members “forged coalitions and got out the vote” to defeat Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s attack on collective bargaining rights. “They forged, and last year, we killed that anti-worker legislation dead.”
President McEntee concluded his remarks by telling the Convention delegates:
“I have always believed in you and in what together we could accomplish for our members and for others. I have always been proud of the choices you have made, not just for ourselves, but for all the working families of America. My dream for AFSCME is that you will choose to travel the road ahead with courage, determination and, yes, with solidarity. Forever.”
Special guest Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), U.S. House Minority Leader, joined members from across the country in a moving tribute to President McEntee.
Watch excerpts from President McEntee’s address below: