Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a group of union workers before the Labor Day Parade in downtown Pittsburgh Monday morning.
His speech was focused on the importance of organized labor to the health of the national economy and quality of life.
“Without the ability to sit down with the most powerful entities in the world, without that ability to negotiate, without that ability to throw up power, there is no shot,” Biden said. “No shot for any American worker.”
He said organizing is essential to making sure everyone can feel secure in their work and domestic life.
“Our job is one thing, all of you, to make sure every parent can look their kid in the eye knowing they put in a full day’s work and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay,’” he said. “That’s what labor is about, that’s what unions are about.”
Biden said the economy has changed; Workers no longer benefit as much from increases in their productivity as they used to.
“The people who caused the productivity increase, they got a piece of the action,” he said. “But it went up about 73 percent, but yet wages only went up about nine percent all across America. Something’s wrong, folks.”
A contributing factor to this is a flawed tax code in which the rich do not pay their fair share, according to Biden.
“Why in God’s name should a man or woman working in a steel mill making $50,000 a year pay at a higher rate than someone who makes tens of millions of dollars on Wall Street?” he said.
Biden said there is a direct correlation between the health of labor and the strength of the middle class, and a strong middle class is the key to a strong economy
“When the middle class does well, the wealthy do very well and the poor have a way up,” he said. “So organize, organize, organize.”
Despite the heat, 60,000 participants were expected in the parade.