For Immediate Release
Contact: Nick Voutsinos

Saunders on State of the Union: America has seen a dramatic reversal. Working people have more power than ever. Now is the time to deliver fundamental change.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement ahead of President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address:

“When President Joe Biden took office, COVID cases were soaring. Millions of Americans had lost their jobs. The unemployment rate was well above 6%, and states and local governing bodies were on the brink of budget crises.

“America has seen a dramatic reversal. Today, we are diminishing COVID’s impact on our lives through science. America is hiring again. And best of all, working people have more power than ever, bolstered by an administration that supports their right to organize and strike to demand better pay, benefits and working conditions.

“How did President Biden get America back on track? He listened to working people and then he delivered. When public service workers — the everyday heroes who have kept our communities running throughout the pandemic — had their jobs threatened by budget cuts, President Biden showed leadership. By signing the American Rescue Plan, he brought our public services back from the brink, saving jobs and preventing waves of layoffs.

“He signed an infrastructure bill that is making historic investments in our roads, bridges, water systems and broadband. He has chosen Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a jurist with an indisputable record of standing with working people, as the first African American woman ever nominated to the Supreme Court. He has rebuilt the federal judiciary with a diversity never seen before, whether measured by professional background or by race and gender. And with a revamped and empowered National Labor Relations Board, workers can finally be confident that their rights will be safeguarded, following four years in which they were gutted or just ignored.

“But the State of the Union can’t just be about achievements so far; tonight’s speech must answer the question of what comes next. We must advance the rights and freedoms of both public and private sector workers by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. We must finally allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, invest in child care to support working families and providers alike, curb climate change before it’s too late and ensure that the ultra-wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes so we can make investments in strong communities.

“And finally, our democracy is under attack. We must respond in kind by protecting the right of every citizen to cast a ballot and make it easier to vote. The foundation of our nation depends on it.

“Working people want this administration to level the playing field and deliver more fundamental change. Now is the time to get it done.”