Chants and union claps filled Conference Room 118 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Wednesday. High-ranking Democratic officials spoke to delegates on the second day of the Labor Caucus, addressing issues of interest to many working Pennsylvanians.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were a few of the speakers who spoke to a room of 300 union members and supporters.
Warren, de Blasio and Cuomo stayed on message, reinforcing key points such as ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership, increasing the minimum wage and integrating more people into labor unions.
Warren and de Blasio’s speeches often referenced 1933, the nadir of the Great Depression when 1 in 4 people were unemployed.
“In 2016, this is our 1933. This is our chance to change things,” de Blasio said, noting success isn’t instantaneous. “When our brothers and sisters created the New Deal, they didn’t know what would work. Sometimes they failed. We don’t remember what failed, we remember what succeeded.”
Warren echoed the idea of treating this moment as an opportunity.
“We don’t have to be a boom or bust economy. We can build an economy that works. Not one that works for those at the top,” Warren said, referencing Republican nominee Donald Trump, saying his plan is to help himself.
“The key to make a strong America is to make a strong union,” Warren said.
The conference room had a strong Latino presence with former United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis also addressing the crowd. Many of those on the day’s program, both Latino and non-Latino speakers, showed unity by including the slogan “Sí se puede” (yes you can) in their talk.
Union members also spoke out, sharing emotional stories of facing eviction with a two-income household and vocalizing support of the Fight for 15 Movement, which aims to end “poverty wages.”
Louis William Finley is a journalism student at Temple. He is covering the Democratic National Convention for the CDT.