Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) Maine Labor Lobby Day 2013 Address (Video; Text)
Senate Assistant Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) gave a tremendous barn burner of a speech this afternoon in the Hall of Flags to those assembled for the 2013 Maine Labor Lobby Day, sponsored by Maine AFL-CIO.
Those in attendance spent the morning lobbying their legislators on bills of importance to Maine workers, including the minimum wage, Buy America, workers’ compensation, and the state budget. Each participant wore a badge that included the total amount of money their town would lose in revenue sharing under the Governor’s proposed budget.
Below is Senator Jackson’s address as prepared.
- Good morning, brothers and sisters, and thank you for being here today. If you are here today, it is because you’re part of a growing number of folks who are recognizing thinks need to change if our economy is ever going to return to some sense of normalcy. If you are here today, it is because you believe in yourself, your friends, and your neighbors to be part of the restrengthening of Maine’s middle class. If you are here today, it’s because you reject the notion that the United States has to change its place in the world in order to meet the changes of the world.
I am with you. But I am also here because as a young man who grew up in a place where people work unimaginably hard their entire lives, I learned just how badly people like us need to make sure our voices are heard in these halls. When a group of my fellow Allagash loggers and I came here in the 1990s, we saw how unfair the system can be to folks who are just trying to do the best they can for their families.
The fact of the matter is simple; people who work for a living deserve action and respect from those who exist beneath this dome and behind these stairs. Today is the day working people and their families stop being a talking point and start being a focal point!
Later I will be presenting a bill that if passed would direct the State of Maine to buy American resources at every realistic opportunity. With American manufacturing still fighting to come back, one of the greatest things we can do to help is to make sure when government money is spent, it goes back to that sector and our economy. That means it will be going toward keeping good jobs with good benefits that people can be proud of. Some would rather not acknowledge it, or would like to think that the best part of our past can’t be one of the good parts of our future, but having an industrialized nation with a high quality of life means having a strong middle clas.
We must stop downplaying that making things is what the United States has always done best. Of course, it’s one of many things that we like to think that Mainers do best. The least we can do is make sure that our state supports this tradition, whether it’s by buying steel from Pennsylvania or boots from right down the road in Auburn. Let’s be in the business of purchasing paper from mills right here in Maine, not in eastern Canada. Let’s institutionalize common sense and fairness. We were sent here to Augusta by Maine’s people, not multinational corporations with factories in China and Korea, and I can tell you that every legislator with us today is determined to prove our commitment to coming good on that.
There’s another bill being heard today that would raise Maine’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour and allow it to adjust to inflation on an annual basis. Brothers and sisters, we need to do this. We need to do this for every single parent who just can’t put enough hours in to cover the bills that keep piling up. We need to do this for every student who graduated last year but has been unable to find a job that makes paying back student loans feasible. We need to do this for every large family that’s crammed into an apartment that’s too small for now because they can’t afford a place that fits. Hard work is more than the great virtues of sweat and dignity. If the value of milk and bread have changed, shouldn’t the value of a person’s time? We hear a lot about how Mainers ought to get off the couch, but the reality is that most Mainers are the best of workers, and maybe they can’t afford a couch- even the ones from Marden’s.
So to everyone on minimum wage, we say to you: Don’t let anyone tell you you’ve done wrong because $7.50/ hour wasn’t enough. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s your fault that $7.50 couldn’t buy even 2 gallons of gasoline when you burn four going to work every day. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a bum because even after putting in every hour you could, you don’t know how you’ll afford the mortgage on the home that has been in your family for generations. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a bottom feeder because after you couldn’t find a second job, you stopped at the food pantry, the five or six mouths at home the only thing on your mind. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re lazy when you put your children to bed at night and you feel guilty that that college fund you started hasn’t had a deposit in it for more than two years, because after you got sick without health insurance $7.50 wasn’t enough. $7.50 isn’t enough!
American workers are the best workers in the world and Mainers are a shining example among them! There is nothing we can’t do from right here in Maine, if we allow Maine to get to work the way it wants to! I see a future where the industries of our past are revived to compliment the markets and jobs of the future! Maine is an extraordinary state defined by an exceptional people and we’re not going to let anyone tell us different anymore! Thank you!